This morning I was taking a walk by the pond near my house, which has historically been my sanctuary to reconnect with nature. As of late it’s been interrupted by the beeps and bangs of construction equipment, and the cracking and grinding of wood, all signifying the destruction of nature to make way for man – who has decided to build things on the other side of the creek. It frustrates me greatly.
Sunday is the only quiet day, so today I was able to walk without the ruckus. To hear the birds singing and the squirrels foraging, and to once again lose myself in my thoughts and pretend that maybe I was somewhere else.
I’ve seen hawks for a long time now – for probably the last ten years or so. I’ll spot them soaring in the sky or perching on signs or streetlights, often while driving down a busy road in the middle of the city. What prompts me to look up or to look in a certain direction while driving, I never know. I just know that I see them quite often in a flash of five seconds or less.
When I first noticed the regularity of these sightings a few years ago, I thought it odd to encounter so many hawks in such a bulldozed place like Dallas where few bits of habitat (and food) remain. But I didn’t consider anything further than that for a really long time.
As those sightings continued and even seemed to increase in frequency, I began to think that maybe there was something more to it than the obvious (meaning, an ongoing coincidence). And this morning’s walk brought me back to a place where I know that coincidences aren’t actually a thing and that nothing at all is random in our lives.
I was walking with an unusual quietness in my head. There are days where the thoughts thrash around so much that I rush to get back home. Then there are days where my body aches and I barely make it, and I can’t help but ruminate about how I used to not feel that way.
Days like today are the best ones, where I’m strolling leisurely and without much thought at all. It’s a Zen-like state that I so often look for on these walks but that I can only find some of the time, probably because of everything else I’m battling every day.
The last stretch of sidewalk leading into the neighborhood is historically the place where my trance breaks if I’ve found it. But today that quiet was lingering a bit, and just before I got to the end, I looked to my right and saw a hawk resting on the ground. Just sitting, motionless, and looking at me as I looked at him.
Three joggers had passed that spot about two minutes prior, and a man walking his boxer had just disappeared into the neighborhood a minute before. That means four humans and a dog had all passed that spot without incident. Without seeing.
Why did they not see and I did?
I stood still on the sidewalk, looking at the hawk and weighing the significance of this latest encounter. When it didn’t take flight, I pulled out my cell phone to take a picture (shown at the top of this post), I guess because I’d seen so many of them lately and here was yet another that was closer than the rest.
The hawk continued to stare at me without much fanfare, and then it suddenly took off toward the trees, soaring, gliding. I captured one more picture of its wingspan and then focused my attention on the present – on the hawk that was now perched atop one of the towering trees behind our neighborhood. I gave it one last look, turned away, and kept walking up the sidewalk.
I emerged from the greenbelt deep in thought. I’d seen at least three hawks in the past week and it was a pace above my usual. In fact, they’d kept coming and coming the last couple of months and I wanted to know what it all meant.
“Do you ever see the hawks when we’re driving?” I’d asked my husband about a week ago, after seeing another one dive toward some grass while we were speeding down the highway.
“Hawks? No. Why?” he’d said.
“I just see them all the time. I’ve seen them for years and I just saw another one. You really don’t see them?”
“Umm, nope. I don’t remember seeing any hawks.”
I’ve long thought that the hawks show up for me because they have some sort of message or are reminding me of something I’ve become disconnected with inside myself. I’ve felt this way about cardinals too, but in a different way. The cardinals showed up immediately after I lost both of my beloved kitties, and they showed up again after I sent my book into the world for preorders. I’d been crying on the patio and suddenly they were in my backyard. Lots of them. Cardinals, for me, are a sign that all is well.
Hawks, I think, are a sign of a higher calling and a greater purpose. A reminder of a connection to something bigger than myself.
I know this is true today, because as I walked home with my thoughts floating around, I came to a sudden conclusion that I so often land on after periods of non-writing that can stretch for months at a time: I’m supposed to be a writer. It was like a voice inside of my head telling me, rather than me thinking it myself.
I believe this hawk came to remind me of my calling and that I still have a higher purpose despite being beaten down so badly lately. I believe it also came to breathe fresh life into me, because after having spent the last month or two utterly burned out and devoid of anything to say, I sit here today and write this post.
Maybe it’s a good one and maybe it isn’t (it certainly hasn’t been one of my easier ones to write), but I’m at least no longer devoid of words. I at least have something to say and the desire to say it, and the ability to sit down and type something when I’ve spent the last two months in a bit of a stupor.
Yes, a hawk is just a bird. It could be a hell of a coincidence and maybe there’s nothing more to it than that. But deep inside, I know that’s not what it is. I know that this planet is held together by forces that we don’t have the capacity to understand because our scientific tools (and brains) only reach so far.
And I choose to remain open to the idea that we each have a purpose and that our guidance comes in interesting or unexpected ways. For me? It’s a hawk. It’s a soaring being who floats in and out of my life to remind me to continue to soar myself. To spread my wings and fly with the gift I’ve been given, to rise above adversity, and to achieve my highest potential while I’m on this planet.
Thank you, hawk, for continuing to show up.
My first book, Halfway There: Lessons at Midlife, will be published in spring 2020. To be notified when it is available for purchase, sign up for my mailing list.
The Big Pause