It’s a very high screeching sound, curiously a bit like a squirrel only higher pitched. The same staccato, the same almost mechanical echo.
So, of course I turned my kayak towards the shore to see what it was. High in a tree looking out over the lake continuing to screech was a rather large bald eagle. I drifted towards the tree, it turned and considered me. We watched each other for several minutes. He certainly could see me more clearly. For one I was in a yellow kayak on green/blue water. He was in a tree surrounding by branches. And really the term ‘eagle eye’ has meaning. I could see the bright eyes, the boldly yellow beak, and the fact the feathers were still more a shade of dark brown than dark black, suggesting to me this wasn’t a juvenile eagle nor was it an old eagle.
A squirrel was chirping in some tree behind it. I suspect there was a foot tapping on the branch as well, the typical danger call.
Then the eagle opened its wings, flew in front of me and out over the lake where it proceeded to hunt over near the opposite shore. Bald Eagles hunt by lifting fish out of the water… they are too noble apparently to dive like other fish hunting birds. So the eagle hovers over a spot while it looks then lowers itself, only feet submerging. This time it didn’t find anything and continued out over some trees.
I heard some ravens cawing in the distance. When there are hawks around the ravens will be out to harass them. Apparently ravens let eagles alone.
I like seeing bald eagles. A person doesn’t need to get out their audobon book to identify it. And they are a good omen even if one doesn’t believe in omens good or bad (which I guess is like defending the innerrancy of the Wise Men from the east while vehemently denying astrology).
I’m thinking about John the Baptist alot this past week. For writing reasons mainly which drifts into a broader consideration. I like this. Not for any particular reason only because I see again the usefulness of a good mulling.
Mulling is an underrated activity. The brain, I think, is a lot smarter than we are. It really knows what it’s about and if we stop for a moment and let it go about its business we really can learn a thing or two. Its the stopping for a minute that is the problem. The mind will happily do what we want, no matter how menial, degrading, or futile the task. We can spend years occupying it and keeping it filled with all manner of minuciae. When we stop to mull it realizes its new freedom and often is surprising.
A little like if Michelangelo had a job as a butler and could only fit in the art stuff in his spare time.
Of course the surprises of a good mull often are so distressing that a person quickly learns never, ever to let the mind have its freedom. There’s a lot going on in our heads which we don’t know about and soemtimes don’t want to know about.
But this being the case I still enjoy a good mulling, maybe more than most folks. This is what brought me first to consider John the Baptist, then realize the short thrift he’s gotten over the millenia. Really he was the theological sidekick to Jesus, the second most important person in the New Testament, and the last of the Prophets of Israel.
The theology he represents is grand and yet I think John as a person is even more interesting. There are moments of clear confusion amidst his bold and confident calls for repentance. He was the outsider calling the people of Israel back inside, a reality which certainly implies a fair measure of psychological dissonance.
I haven’t mulled long enough yet to be sure. The fact I am so curious about John as a character is encouraging, however, both to my present vocational goals and my spiritual goals. I was a wee bit worried about each aspect this past week, so the encouragement of intellectual curiosity does my soul well.
It might even inspire me to reread the dead sea scrolls today under the light of a winter sun. Or, I might find a good tree to stare at for a while and spend a long time seriously mulling.