July 21, 2012

The Problem Of Eagles

By Barry Rudesill

I was sitting in a conference recently when the speaker took up the subject of eagles. He had a stirring story about how eagles learn to fly and the protection that the mother eagle provides to her young in the process. As I sat there, I thought about another story about eagles...

If you’re like me, eagles are inspiring to you. I have always been amazed at their size, their grace and their proud image. They are amazing raptors and it is no wonder that they were chosen to be the national bird.

But, did you realize that eagles are not always the smartest of birds?

I was hired to lead Outdoor Education programs with a wonderful group of young men and women. Since I was new to the facility, they took me on a tour of the grounds so that I knew what was out there. When we got down by the river’s edge, they pointed out an amazing sight: an eagle’s nest that was the biggest I have ever seen!

As I sat and marveled at it, one of my staff grinned at me and said, “Do you know that eagles can sometimes drown?”

I looked at her in confusion. “How can a bird that soars hundreds of feet up in the air drown?”

One of the other staff looked at me and said, “You know they eat fish, right?” I nodded. “Well, sometimes an eagle will swoop down and pick up a fish that is too heavy, something they can’t lift. Do you know what they do?”

I shook my head. Another staff person jumped in, “They die!”

The first staff person shook her head. “They try to fly, but if it’s too heavy, they fall into the water. But, eagles can swim! Not very well, but they can flop their way to shore.”

“Okay,” I said, “but if they can swim, how do they drown?”

“If the burden is too heavy to carry, they cannot stay afloat and they will begin to sink.”

“They can’t let go?” I asked in amazement. I assumed that there must be something in the design of their claws that prevented them from releasing their prey.

“They could,” she told me, “but they don’t. They won’t let go, even if it means their life.”

I walked away in silence, thinking about the lesson learned.  It wasn’t until many years later that I thought about how the example of the eagle applied to my own life. I thought about the pain in my life – the problems that I refused to face – and how it affected me.

I knew that I had a choice in my life: I could let go of my burdens, lay them down and be free to fly again; or I could hang on, let it continue to wreck my health, my relationships and possibly kill me in the process.

It is the same choice for all of us...

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