To Soar on Wings Like…Red-Tailed Hawks

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on

God speaks to me through Red-tailed Hawks. I don’t really remember when it started, but I have been drawn to hawks for many years. Perhaps it was reading Robinson Jeffers’ poem Hurt Hawks under the direction of my cooperating teacher, Jack Warner. Maybe it was visiting the aviary in Pittsburgh, where my children held sticks of meat in the air for such birds of prey to swoop in and snatch away, a treat to devour on their perches. However it happened, God seems to draw my attention to hawks.

Two summers back, a hawk landed in my backyard. I happened to be outside at the moment it descended from my neighbor’s tree to my lawn. Transfixed, I watched as it looked my way, then hopped, spread its wings, and glided a short distance in my direction. (I still have the video on my computer.) As much as I am awed by horses or whales, if I could be an animal for just one hour, it would be a hawk. To soar on thermal drafts, only slightly adjusting my wings, or fall like lightning (thank you, Tennyson) to nab my unsuspecting prey would be divine.

What follows is a meditation inspired by the hawks I often see along the highway as I travel from here to there. Oh, to remain perched above the endless noise and traffic of those who only know temporal destinations, to see with unshaded eyes further than my human eyes can see, to breathe the free air, and to live, and move, and have my being exactly as I was created to be! This is God’s invitation to me (and you).

Hawk Watching

Vincent H. Anastasi 2018

Driving on this interminable
ribbon of asphalt,
I am drawn to the trees
stripped bare by mid-Fall’s strict hand
in search of the occasional Red-Tail –
small, white-bellied clouds

                                                with talons

perched between earth and sky,
unimpressed by our highways and technologies,
our errands and appointments
that light the way to dusty death,
stoically surveying
an ever-changing landscape,
far removed from the Edenic paradise
where hawks soared
uninhibited and free
being who they were meant to be,
not Time’s fool
counting the many miles left to go.

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