I went to the Snow Goose Festival in Chico with Anne over this past weekend.  It was nice to get away with her (and to supply in Paradise on Sunday).  It was good to do a bit of birding.  And going to the festival brought to mind one of the “great” experiences of my life.  Which involved snow geese — I think.  I’ve talked about this experience before, but I don’t believe I’ve ever written it down.

It was while I was living in Susanville.  And I’m guessing it was just about this time of the year.  For some reason (I was the chair, so I must have been crazy) I had an 8 AM meeting of the Christian Education Committee in Willows that morning.  Which meant (I always like to be early) that I must have left Susanville before 6 AM that morning (and that means I was probably up sometime between 5 and 5:30 AM — a time when I would be groggy and dysfunctional).  As I came down the stretch of highway into Willows, just as the sun was beginning to rise, I was in a foul mood.  I was half asleep and cranky, and I’m sure I hadn’t had any coffee.  I wasn’t in the mood to be receptive to anything.  I just wanted to turn around and go back home and get back in bed.

And that’s when I saw them.  Ducks or geese of some kind, flying up out of the fields, filling the sky ahead.  Even in that state, the wonder penetrated.  I pulled over to the side and watched them.  Flocks of glistening silver, sparkling in the light of the rising sun, forming a living, moving wall that filled the whole sky in front of me.  It was awesome — in the religious sense of the word.

I simply sat and gaped and drank in the sight.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I couldn’t have imagined so many birds that they actually filled the whole sky.  And the first light of the rising sun (I think the ground below was still dark) reflecting off the birds was more beautiful, perhaps, than anything else I’ve ever seen.

How long I sat there, I don’t know.  Certainly 5 or 10 minutes.  Perhaps 15 minutes.  And then, sadly, it was time to be at the meeting.

Which no one else attended!

But by then, it really didn’t matter.  I’ve carried that vision with me ever since:  the unexpected awesome majesty of God’s creation, breaking in on a crabby, coffee deprived consciousness and renewing a dragging spirit.

I think they were snow geese.  That’s what I thought at the time.  They seemed to be too big to be ducks.  Checking my field guides when I got back home, they seemed to be the logical choice.  But really what I saw was a moving wall of glistening silver in the sky.  I didn’t have a camera or binoculars with me.  And I never got all that close to the birds.  So it’s a guess — albeit an educated guess.

So that’s what I thought of when I saw that Chico was holding a Snow Goose Festival.  And wouldn’t you know it — we went on a field trip that didn’t see any snow geese at all!  But that’s alright.  It gives me something to look forward to next year, or perhaps the year after.

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