Of Geese and God

I had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning as my family and I were readying ourselves to go out of town to see a movie.  Flights of several hundred geese in their V formations flew over the town of Dwight, Illinois, heading south and honking their heads off.  This was at 8:00 AM and no doubt some of the citizenry who had made merry on Christmas did not find all the honking welcome, but I thought it was delightful and awe-inspiring.  Dwight is not on any major migratory flight paths for geese, so this was a rare event.  As I do whenever I see something in nature that inspires awe in me, I quickly thought of the Creator of nature, and I mused that after celebrating the Nativity yesterday, God deigning to become part of Nature, this sight reminded me of the delight that God takes in His creation, and why He marks the sparrow’s fall, and the honking of a goose.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Hi Donald–

    I happened upon your blog at the global tags…

    In any event, I am attempting to locate articles, essays, etc., which treat of the topic of abortion being an infamy even to save the life of the mother.

    If you have seen such an argument please advise.

    Cheers! for the Holiday…

    Dean Taylor

  2. derrida you will find many good articles regarding abortion on The American Catholic, but I don’t recall one treating that particular topic. Here is a good overview of the teaching of the Church.


    Fortunately with modern obstetrics, the situations where it could be argued that an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the mother, are virtually non-existent.

  3. Speaking of birds… I have been noticing lots of red-tailed hawks perched on signs along central Illinois highways of late. It used to be pretty rare to see them and now I’m seeing them all the time. They are a pretty majestic sight when they fly (unless you’re a mouse or a rabbit or some other critter right in their line of sight, of course).

    Also bald eagles should soon be evident along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers… in late January or early February there are eagle spotting festivals in river locations such as Starved Rock, Pekin and Havana.

  4. “They are a pretty majestic sight when they fly (unless you’re a mouse or a rabbit or some other critter right in their line of sight, of course).”

    LOL Elaine! I imagine they would call the sight heart-stopping!

    I’ve been noticing more red-tails the past few years too. They can almost hover when they are riding the convection currents on a hot summer’s day. A marvelous predator, as long as we are not on their bill of fare!

  5. Migratory birds are fairly common here. The only geese we get here, other than domestic geese, are the Canadian geese that migrate from way up north to down under here. They cause a huge destruction to the crops in the South Island, so the farmers aren’t that welcoming toward them – many find their way to the cooking pot. But they are also a game bird here in season, but we don’t see them here on the coast – mainly inland around the aforementioned farms in the North Island as well.
    I think its marvelous to see them in their V formations, the lead birds changing from time to time, doing the hard work, so that the trailing birds get a lift off the currents set up by the bird in front.
    So that skill of the birds, getting a lift from the bird in front, is that by design, or has it merely evolved? 🙂
    And tame geese are marvelous “watchdogs”, giving warning of strangers, and are quite fearless in attacking any percieved ‘enemy’. In my boyhood I was on the end of such an attack, and it wasn’t an endearing experience. I have long since forgiven the goose, but I think it ended up in the pot anyway.

  6. Near Dwight Don we have a man-made lake called Lion’s Lake which was constructed only about 15 years ago. We have a few geese that stop off there to have goslings. The family and I throw bread to them several times during the year and love to watch their antics. Wild geese do not have the mildest disposition on Earth and we are careful not to try to pet them.

  7. In late March of 2008 we saw a curious phenomenon involving geese. Though large numbers of Canadian honkers and snows are common enough hereabouts, just south of Lake Ontario, this time the flocks seemed to stall out right in our neighborhood. Seemed like it was too icy cold for them to travel any farther north.
    It was an exceptional experience to go for a walk on a sunny day, the snow still deep underfoot, and see and hear hundreds of thousands of snow geese settling and launching continually from the surrounding cornfields. A cacophony, yes, but thrilling in its sheer intensity.
    And there is something truly special about the sight of snow geese flying against a brilliant blue sky.
    Whenever Nature offers up one of these simple moments of magnificence, I tend to think…. “thanks, God!”

  8. I’m not up on the stats, but I’m sure I see more raptors today than I recall seeing 20 years ago. I don’t think it’s just improved powers of observation, though location could be a factor. Our neighborhood has plenty of mature trees; we get red-tails, red-shouldered, small hawks (Cooper’s or sharp-shinned; I can’t say for sure because they’re always moving too fast) and hear barred and great horned owls from time to time. My next-door neighbor swears a young bald eagle stopped by his backyard for a rest recently (scouting out his privet for small critters, no doubt!)

    We are currently having Mass in our social hall pending construction of the church; the hall has several large west-facing windows behind the dais where the altar stands. Once, a flock of Canada geese grazing nearby decided to take off just as evening Mass was beginning. It was quite awe-inspiring to see those majestic birds crossing the windows with the sunset behind right at that moment.

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