The Hawk’s Feather

It was fortuitous in the way that all of God’s small gifts are: a feather from a red-tailed hawk, sitting smack in the middle of the path my husband and I were walking through the wetlands.

I love red-tailed hawks.  They perch on the tall trees near our backyard, crying out at us whenever we dare set foot on the grass.  In almost every rainstorm, I can glance out the window to find one of them sitting there, impervious, fluffing feathers under the torrent.  In a strange way, they have come to mean “home.”

So when I saw the unblemished feather – somehow perfectly whole after a gully-washing rainstorm – I immediately took it home.  And then I marveled at it.

Have you ever seen a hawk?  They’re big.  From our trees they appear heavy and solid, somehow clinging to branches even in gusty winds.  They fly high and they dive quickly.  Everything about them screams power and strength.

So I was surprised to find how light the feather was: lighter than a sheet of paper in my hand, barely there.  The calamus was delicate and somehow strong, hollow but unbending.  The colors looked as though they had been painted on by an exacting artist.  And when I rinsed the feather at my sink, I marveled at the way water beaded against it and then slid away.  It was dry again before I turned from the sink to the countertop.

So much artistry in one feather, not to mention the entire hawk!

But God is a god of great detail, and the hawk’s feather reminded me of that.  He doesn’t forget about or neglect things.  He is not careless.  Somehow He can be occupied with things of great import and cosmic significance, and yet also spare the time for hawk’s feathers and our most minor confusions, wanderings, and uncertainties.

This week, I experienced a great and unexpected opportunity.  Looking back, the way that the opportunity came about was absurd: it was the product of a thousand large and small events working together in perfect, concerted harmony to achieve one particular outcome.  It was not an outcome I could have or would have remotely predicted, and yet I know that God tended to my affairs in the same way He attended to that hawk’s feather, leaving no small detail untouched.

The great lie of unbelief is to think that God doesn’t care.  We do, often – when things don’t work out like we planned, when something doesn’t make sense, when we have to do the thing we don’t want to do, or when we can’t see through our own circumstances.  There’s a common phrase that says “the devil is in the details,” but I’d argue that it’s rather the opposite: God is.  We just can’t see where those details are headed, or what the final cumulative result of all of them might be.

So the hawk’s feather was a nice reminder: God is artful, God is careful, God is thoughtful, God is thorough.  In the tiny insignificances and everything that we can’t understand, He is pulling small pieces together, making microscopic changes, slowly working out His outcomes at the most granular levels we can imagine, and some we surely can’t see.

This is His work, and His great joy.  I love loving the great Artist.






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