The eagle


Bald Eagle. sally9258CC-BY

After a recent outpatient procedure, as I secretly celebrated waking up from anesthesia and not dying, my  husband drove me home down the back country roads. Through the passenger window I idly watched winter-brown grass, trees, and old gray outbuildings zipping by, noted a small clearing with a tiny pond nestled in wood-strewn ground, an eagle sitting by the wayside—


We said it simultaneously, my husband and I: “THAT’S AN EAGLE!”

Just a quick impression, sitting majestically, facing us, huge, white head gleaming atop the dark body, not ten feet away . . . .

We were past it as soon as the sight registered on our brains.

“Go back! Go back!” I pleaded, grabbing my phone, opening the camera.

sssskkkkrrrrttt! of a turn-around at a dirt driveway, and we were back in a flash.

It watched us, unmoving, as we neared, but when we slowed, the eagle grew suspicious. It took off. Within a millisecond, into the bare, gnarled oaks.

“No! Wait! Wait!” I cried, snapping as fast as I could.

We rolled a little farther, but the only good shot I got was of its back, soaring away.

Gone. I missed the moment. Failed to capture my encounter with the wondrous. I have never been that close to an eagle in the wild. I’ve hardly seen any free ones at all, in fact. I’ve heard them calling in their high, haunting, piercing voices, have seen one perched on top of a streetlamp, but never anything like this.

I grieved my loss: It would have made such a great blog post, too.

I got home, got into bed.

Couldn’t rest.

The image of the eagle wouldn’t leave my thoughts. It stayed, motionless, watching me. Cocked its head, affixed me with its eye, its penetrating gaze.

—Why wouldn’t you stay so still just a little while ago?

It ruffled its feathers. Kept right on staring at me.

So I looked it up.

There are few things I love better than symbolism, and few are better-known than the eagle: The national bird, on the Great Seal of the United States. Revered icon of ancient times, civilizations, people. Mascot to numerous sports teams—even that of the school where I work.

But this is what got me about the eagle:

It is a symbol of healing.

It is a symbol of transition, some element of life or creative endeavor, about to take flight.

—Dare I see it as a sign that all shall be well, that some new venture, personal or professional, lies just ahead?

It was just an eagle sitting by the wayside, as eagles surely do, somewhere, every day.

Only this time I happened to see it. In the blinking of an eye.

It blinked.

I blinked back at it.

So, I told it, you wouldn’t stay put for a real picture, but now you linger as a mental one. If you’re going to hang around portending something, then let it be my creativity and insight taking flight. Let it be about thing I love to do most—let my writing be courageous and free, with clarity of vision. Let it fly, let it fly, on and on, higher and higher.

Only then did the image fade; only then did I rest.

I fell asleep.

And woke in the morning, renewed, resolute.

No more missed moments. There aren’t moments to lose.

—I’m ready for whatever lies ahead. Lead on, eagle.  

My best shot

21 thoughts on “The eagle

  1. I like the symbolism and the connections.

    I saw an eagle on Saturday and Sunday. It’s head barely visible above the nest which sits in the top of a Cottonwood tree along the Colorado River in Western Colorado flanked by the red canyon walls. On the other side of the river our car was one of thousands whizzing by on I-70. I wonder what the eagle thinks of us? My guess is that It sits there, stoically, wondering why we have to race around. Why we don’t sit in our nests and watch? Maybe that is my lesson. Sit more and watch.

    Thanks for the lesson tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every time I miss a “great shot” I tell to myself, well, it will be always on my brain, and that’s what counts.

    “I grieved my loss: It would have made such a great blog post, too.” Maybe I am glad you missed the shot because this is a great slice. You have the ability to put in your readers many, many little snapshots in their minds that make a story much more compelling than just one picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a beautiful site and slice! You take the actual moment of spotting the eagle, missing the shot right into your internal thoughts – in that moment and those that linger! When you bring in the symbolism it makes me, the reader, take pause and reflect along with you! Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your gleanings about the symbolism of the eagle. Our lake front eagle appeared on Christmas Day with the entire family at the window watching her fly away! It was an amazing sight!
    And may your creative endeavors CONTINUE to take flight.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So many things. First in the moment with you I felt the breath stealing amazement, an eagle! Then the awe, it’s so big and how does it look so majestic? Then the magic. It feels so rare it must be a sign. Thanks for that slice. I feel like I had that moment too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You so captured my sense of the rarity having some important meaning! Can’t help thinking so – although just to see the eagle was amazing in itself. It really took a second to register. Thank you so much for these thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was excited with you while reading! I’ve seen a rescued eagle up close, so I know their grandeur would only be multiplied in a wild sighting. You’ve captured the moment well! (And I find it hard to believe that you ever doubted that a post could come of this! Following your blog has proven otherwise.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Chris, for enjoying the post and for your faith in me and my writing!! I am so grateful for your thoughts. A good photo of the eagle would have made such an exciting post – so, not having it made me work harder with words. Perhaps that was a better gift than a good shot (but, oh, it was AMAZING!)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was going to quote this line, “Failed to capture my encounter with the wondrous,” and say, “But it remains in your mind, and that’s what counts.” But you, of course, said that yourself. I actually LOVE the picture you got, and the “vision” you shared from that view. Yes, flying free and leading the way. Inspiration abounds!


    • Interesting new approach (five slices above) and question! I didn’t have a song but was asked by anesthesiologist what my “happy place” was and to talk about it as I went under (the place is my grandparents’ home in the country). But — a song? Hmmm. Maybe Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring …


  8. As always, Fran –beautiful, with wisdom and thoughts to hold on to. We (26 of us) rented a large home at the ocean’s edge beside a mountain stream that joined the ocean for a week the last two summers. Both years, we were visited each morning by a bald eagle, fishing at the mouth of the river. It was a breath-taking sight.

    Liked by 1 person

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