THE WIND BENEATH OUR WINGS
By Eric Andreasen
I’m not much of a guy for stuffing dead animals or monster fish and hanging them around on the walls as displays of conquest, although I very much like the outdoors and am in awe of many things in nature. In fact, the only mounted fish I have in my house is one I carved out of a solid block of wood and painted when I was scratching a new hobby itch several years ago. So it might be quite surprising to know that I have a bit of road kill hanging off the last peg of my hat rack in my bedroom; an owl’s foot and a single feather.
I’m not sure what it was about that day which drew my attention to the white lump along the side of the road on that early lat-fall/early winter day several years ago as I headed to work one morning. I think it was something fluttering in the breeze which looked so different that I actually stopped my car and went back to take a look.
Lying along the roadside was a fully grown and very majestic looking pure white snow owl, on its side with one wing slightly up in the air at an angle. I have to say it was a beautiful creature. Its large eye was open as if it were still taking in the world around it with perfect clarity, although it was obviously seeing things beyond the veil at that moment and forever more. It was strikingly white and clean along its upward wing and through its powerfully built trunk which led downward to its black and polished talons. These talons were what probably caught my attention the most. With graceful curves and needle-sharp tips they were formidable weapons against the small rodents and creatures it had preyed upon. In fact, not far from the owl lay the lifeless body of a small mouse which had been snatched by the silent predator not long before its own demise.
I could see no sign of damage at first glance. Nudging it with my foot its body still rolled limply against the ground without even the earliest signs of the rigor, indicating the creature was not long dead. Upon rolling it however the under side of its head revealed a slight deformity and the white feathers were tainted with a trace of blood. The poor creature had apparently been at one moment soaring powerfully across the sky, the master in control of his world and those it preyed upon. It had been confident and skilled in its abilities as evidenced by its size and strength, with perfect vision and talons to snatch what it wanted from the world around it to meet its needs.
Despite these traits and history of success however, the soaring beast had become distracted in its moment of hierarchy on the food chain and had either grazed an overhead power line or been struck blindside by a passing vehicle, suddenly dropping from its glorious perch to a different realm altogether. This was the thought which caused me to pause and marvel at the scene, eventually leading me to claim one of the owl’s feet as a memory to the lesson I felt God was trying to teach me.
At times in life, everything seems to be right in our life and world. Through hard work and effort we have risen above many of the trials which may have earlier bested us. We feel strong and confident spiritually, mentally, economically and physically. But without even realizing its coming, life tends to throw an unforeseen power line in our path or we are struck by a passing vehicle, so to speak, which knocks us from our higher state into a lower realm of humility and struggle.
Human nature almost forces us to ponder “Why?” when these moments occur. These unpreventable collisions and falls may come in so many forms. Perhaps it is because of wrong choices we have made, loss of employment, the passing of a love one, illness, or any one of a myriad of different things which can beset us. The simple question still remains, “Why?” Especially when we are doing all we think is right and putting forth our best effort this question raised toward the heavens seems more valid than ever.
The simple answer I’ve deduced is this – The Lord allows such events to happen to us, to remind of the source from wince all our blessings flow. In reality, it is not really of our own effort that we are able to soar among the clouds at the high moments in our lives. No doubt it takes hard work and dedicated effort to make spiritual and emotional flight possible, but the actual lifting wind beneath our wings is the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Of ourselves we are flightless, despite the magnificent creations of God that we are. It is only through the merits of our Savior that we are able to lift ourselves above our human frailties to see things from a higher perspective at times. Unfortunately it is also our human nature sometimes, when we reach that height from the forceful flapping of our wings to think it is because of our flailing we have made it there. But without the unseen air below off which we can push, the flight would be impossible. And it is only through His atonement that flight is once again possible, no matter how far we may have fallen.
So we must remember the source of the wind and air that is all around us, along with the realization that at sometimes we are allowed to fall so that we can acknowledge the Savior more fully in our lives. As is spoken in Isaiah 40: 26-31, “Lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created these things…why sayest thou...my way is hid from the Lord, the creator of the earth who fainteth not, neither is weary? He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and, not faint.”
Like the fallen owl, as white, spotless and invulnerable as we may feel, our faults and periods of tumbling failure leave us tarnished in spiritual blood, but even here the Lord has promised us, “Thou your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thou they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
The atonement of our Lord is always sufficient for us, and the singular source by which we are given the strength to raise up out of the dust into which we fall. When it comes to our salvation, He truly “fainteth not, neither is weary”.
In the end, its not a matter of if or when we are going to experience these falls, but whether we then turn to the Lord to lift us with his healing winds into the higher realms once again.