Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dove vs. Hawk

a diving hawk
     Out of the corner my eye I saw it streaking down out the slate blue sky.  I was not even sure what it was until I saw it thunk heavily on a dove sitting quietly near one of my birdfeeders.  It was a red tailed hawk.  Without even thinking, I rushed to the back door and yelled, "You hawk!  Leave my dove alone!"  The hawk looked up startled to be yelled at and took off.  The dove got up, shook itself, and seemed none the worse for its near-death experience.   

     I felt sheepish afterwards.  Lord knows, hawks have to eat too, and I have no idea how the dove felt about being described as "my" dove.  What I hadn't realized is those gentle doves that hang around my backyard had gotten to me.  I kind of felt sorry for them.  The little brown wrens bob all over the place frantically, the pigeons muscle out smaller birds, the blue jays stop by screaming loudly to get their fair share, and if I put out peanut butter suet, a type of blackbird stops by in flocks to devour it within half a day, but the poor dove will just sit and wait until everyone else is done and then quietly munch on whatever seeds are left.  If I get behind in filling the birdfeeder, the wrens go looking elsewhere, the blue jays and the rest are long gone, but not the doves.  They'll hunker down underneath the birdfeeders and kind of look at my back window with mournful eyes.  Sometimes they'll get up on the roof, and I'll hear their sad cries reminding me I've neglected them.  It may take me awhile to get to filling the birdfeeders, but still, they stay, waiting patiently.
     Isn't it remarkable that of all the birds God could've chosen to symbolize the Spirit, he chose a dove in Matthew 3?
     And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
     I sometimes get the impression that a lot of Christians would prefer to see the Spirit as a hawk – diving, attacking, strong.  Instead, God chose the dove, the gentlest of creatures.  If I am to let the Spirit do its work in my life, perhaps I need to stop looking for dramatic changes radiating power and drama, and instead accept the gentleness, the quiet, the faithfulness of the dove.

doves on the fence, huddling together for warmth


  1. I suppose if we didn't have the hawks as a contrast, we wouldn't be so aware of the gentleness of the doves, so maybe we need both.
    Just the same, I find it much more difficult to accept human hawks or recognise we probably also need them.
    Nice post. Nice picture.

  2. It is so hard to live as a dove in this "hawkish" world of ours. Yes, the Holy Spirit really needs to be represented as a dove since she relies on us to be receptive to her urgings. But the HS is also a tongue of fire, igniting us to action.

  3.       Thank you, Ray, yes I too was torn between the needs of the hawk and my protectiveness of the dove.

          I too was trying to reconcile this image of the doves with whom I live and the Spirit we see coming down on Pentecost, Amelia. Maybe a metaphor can only be extended so far. I have trouble thinking of Pentecost when I'm not even ready for Holy Week. Maybe after all, the Pentecost fire really was inspired by the dove in that it caused me to be mad as heck at the hawk.

  4., what (besides doves) do you put in the backyard to take care of Your Hawk?... really now....


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