We Are Like Geese

Fall is here – you can see the leaves turning and there is a nip in the air. But I also know Fall is here because I have seen. . . and heard the honking of a gaggle of Canadian geese beginning their migration south.

I am sure most of you have noticed that Canadian geese fly in a ‘V’ formation. And in fact, when I was recently in Ottawa, Canada, I noticed that they also swim in a ‘V’ formation. It is amazing thing to see a large number of geese flying across the skies in their formation, honking as they fly. As each of the geese flaps its wings, it creates an air lift for those geese flying behind them. In fact, this allows the entire group to fly 71% farther than if they were flying alone.

If a goose is not paying attention and falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position to lead the group. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to earth to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock. They fly, one behind the other, switching the lead so that they can create an air lift that allows them to fly further. If they can’t find their original group, they are welcomed to join any other gaggle that comes along.

Supporting each other and working together allows Canadian geese to travel between 400 to 500 miles, averaging about 55 miles per hour 12 hours a day, to get to warmer climates for the winter.

Now, you may be wondering why I have been talking about Canadian geese. In my mind, we, the people of In The Garden, are like those Canadian geese. We are a community, people working together to make progress and support each other.

Saint Paul said, in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.

So, how are we like Canadian geese?

  • People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
  • In the Garden is a community where we care about each other, are a community, and support and encourage each other in our life journey.

  • Geese stay in formation with those headed where they want to go.
  • By coming on Sunday, we maintain and build our little community in the love of God, building relationships and experiencing fellowship. We are willing to accept each other’s help and give our help to each other.

  • Geese take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. Leading the gaggle is a difficult and tiring job for the leader. So, when tired, the leader drops back into the group and another goose takes the lead. Each one is dependent on the one in front.
  • As with geese, our community is interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources. We need and have people who help us worship, provide the food, and set-up and clean up each Sunday. We cannot do it by ourselves.

  • Geese honk as they fly, encouraging those in front to keep up the speed.
  • In groups like In The Garden, encouragement builds a better and more loving community. The Praising those who celebrate periods of sobriety or acquiring housing give encouragement to those who are still on their own journeys. Caring for those who are pained or suffering also provides a community that really cares about its members.

  • Geese stand by each other in difficult times, never abandoning a member until death.
  • Canadian geese mate for life, never abandoning their mate until death. And each member of the gaggle supports every other member. Just like these geese, the Core Team and the volunteers are always here for the In The Garden community.

We are very blessed to have a wonderful group of people who come to In The Garden; you have built a community that enriches us all. May we continue to meet, and pray, and eat together as children of God.

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 11 October 2015

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