I’ve been really into hawks lately. A convergence of coincidences I guess. First I read a review of a book about hawks – or so I thought. It’s really about loss and memory and love and resilience. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. I wanted to go see her at our local independent bookstore in April but I had a work commitment; Mike, my friend and local bookseller, saved me a signed copy. On vacation this summer, I finally got a chance to read it. I had just read this line, “But now my father had died. Hold tight,” when the phone rang. It was my brother, telling me that my father had died. Everything stopped.
In the morning, I didn’t know what to do so I wrote a poem. And then I wrote a message to Helen MacDonald. Within an hour she wrote me back, a heartfelt message of understanding and connection.
Hawks are beautiful and fiercely independent. They are keen, keen observers, paying attention to every breeze, every silence, every sound. They are completely present, always. And they are mostly misunderstood.
Last week I was setting up some summer workshops at the local middle school when something flickered in the corner of my eye. Swooping. Grace. Wings. Stillness. A beautiful red-tailed hawk landed on the gate in front of me. Our eyes locked. I wanted to know what secrets it held inside. A moment later, it was gone.
This is what it means to parent I think. And in the same way, what it means to teach. We might learn from the hawk this simple lesson. Be fierce. Be graceful. Be present. Pay attention. There’s a world of wonder waiting.