Hover


Jesus returned from the Jordan filled with the Holy Spirit, and she led him into the desert for forty days, where he was tempted by the Devil.~ Luke 4:1

Hovering can be accomplished in a few different ways. Hummingbirds have the ability to rotate their wings so that they can get lift not only on the first stroke, but on the return (think treading water). Another way to hover is to kite. Soaring birds will sometimes head into a thermal and effectively fall a the same rate as the warm air rushes upward (think surfing). There are a handful of birds that are known for hovering. If you see a raptor flapping in order to stay in one spot in the air, you can narrow down the choices. Rough-legged Hawks and Kestrels are known to employ hovering to drop on their prey, and Ospreys hunt this way nearly exclusively. Where an eagle will swoop down at a body of water to pluck a fish from it, Ospreys will line up their sights on a fish, tuck their wings, then drop like a rock, hitting the water with enough force to go up to three meters below the surface. They attack feet-first with toes adjusted so that they have opposing pairs of talons to impale and hold tight their slippery supper. From what seem to be impossible heights, they are able to pick out their prey and hit the target with precision. That doesn’t mean that never miss, fish, after all, are quick. Still, it is a marvel that they can hold one spot in the sky, then strike with such speed and accuracy.

Human fishers hover in a different way, typically marked by patiently watching a line or a bobber. The concept is similar, there is a type of alert waiting involved. The first creation myth in Genesis, speaks of the Spirit of God hovering over the chaos. I can imagine the Spirit as a fishing Osprey, waiting, and waiting, observing, and waiting, then...bang! a dive into the deep to bring forth something previously unseen. Hovering is a creative posture, where we take the time to draw back and see the big picture, so that we might be drawn in to the process of creating with fresh insight and energy. The other benefit of hovering is choosing just the right thing to pursue. An Osprey must see a lot of fish below and has to decide which one is worth the effort. Even then, more often than not, they (and we) come up empty-taloned. Those misses don’t take away the hunger, so we need to rise up and keep hovering.

Prayer: Hovering Spirit, if we need your talons to snatch us from the deep, so be it, but thanks for the wings even if we forget to use them. Amen.

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