My minister friend Sherry told me a story a while back about the summer she watched two eagles build a nest. She was in Yosemite National Park, and for days she watched the eagles bring their sticks and bits of whatever else they found for the nest they were building for their young.
She told me that eagles put the most uncomfortable sticks in the bottom of the nest so the baby birds will be forced to go upwards to the upper edges of the nest where they will exercise their wings and learn to fly.
She said she didn’t expect to be there long enough to witness the birth of the baby eagle and see its first flight, but she did get to see it.
The baby eagle took off and flew for a while, but then it landed on a nearby cliff, and had to be coaxed for an hour by its parents before it would fly again.
Finally it took off and soared across the enormous sky.
“What a great way to understand the uncomfortable situations in our lives,” I said to my friend. Instead of complaining about those situations, why not see them as merely the uncomfortable sticks that are meant to motivate us to go upward, grow, mature, and finally try out our own waiting wings?
And why remain in the bottom of an uncomfortable nest when we are meant to fly?
When my friend told me this story, I was aware of a growing discomfort with my life and I was feeling a strong need to make changes.
One day I took the advice of a self-help writer I’d discovered, and made a list of everything I hated (the uncomfortable sticks in my life), and everything I loved. I decided to expand my business, keeping only what I loved, reducing what I hated, and adding only activities I loved doing.
As a result I was happier, and I was also able to give others (the young people I work with) the opportunity to exercise their own creative wings and take on a challenge which ultimately brought them joy, meaning, new artistic skills, and confidence (they wrote their musical).
I discovered that part of my calling is to coax young people away from the cliffs of fear and perfectionism they cling to so they can discover who they are, and what they want and love and are meant to do.
As I write, I am aware of the way I still cling like a baby eagle to the cliff of fear and self-doubt.
I’m scared sometimes.
I’m also aware of the many voices that are coaxing me to leave my cliff of fear and self-doubt for the sake of something greater.
As I respond to these voices that are lovingly and patiently calling me away from the cliff of my self-imposed limitations, I experience grace.
Grace and flight.
Sometimes just watching others fly makes me want to fly.
They are having so much fun, I want to join them.
How can I not respond to the voices that call me away from a limited life of fear and misery to a life that is free, loving, and extraordinary?
How can I not want to fly with the wings of eagles?