We are called to serve one another. On most days, we can find plenty of opportunities to provide service to someone. As Diem found out, this holds true even in the animal kingdom. She recently told this tale.
Earlier this year, I noticed a pair of geese stopped by my house every morning and afternoon. Some days they would announce their arrival proud and loud with toots of their horns! Other days, they were content making their presence a silent affair. It seemed odd that these two geese were left by the flock that recently migrated through the area. The two came so regularly I named them Gertrude and Gabriel, funny feathered friends who seem to have adopted me and paid regular visits to to manicure the grass on the front lawn. While there, Gabriel would stay alert on lookout while Gertrude had her fill of grass and trimmings. In turn, Gertrude kept an eye out while Gabriel feasted. Every day they were there and eventually I spotted the reason. Close to the fence near the thick bushes, slowly making its way to the green lawn, was a third goose (I decided she looked like an Ilene), walking with a limp, obviously injured. It then became clear that Gertrude and Gabriel weren’t left by the flock. They stayed to care for injured Ilene and seemed to enjoy themselves, at peace with their decision, displaying their love for the injured member of the flock.
As the weeks went by, the three friends continued to make my lawn their home. Ilene still walked with a limp but eventually regained flight. Gabriel injured his left wing and became ground bound. He spent much time resting in the sun and grew accustomed to my presence on the porch nearby. When Ilene and Gertrude would fly off in the afternoon, Gabriel waited anxiously for their return. He grumbled at other noisy geese passing by and sometimes I had to get to the frontline to ward off a couple of the more aggressive birds trying to invade his space. I stayed in Gabriel's view, and he kept an eye on me, trusting that I had his back while he awaited in anticipation the return of his friends before dusk. Then, the trio huddled together for the night, taking turns keeping watch. I never thought my yard would ever become a goose infirmary, but it seemed to be, at least to these three geese where there always were two healthier birds caring for the third, either until all three are healthy enough to move on together, or one gives up the fight, possibly succumbing to injuries that won’t heal.
We sometimes feel helpless and powerless when witnessing suffering. Reaching out to and accompanying those who suffer through our healing presence is compassionate service in action. Not all physical wounds can be healed and nurturing the spiritual and emotional well-being of others is just as important. Through the goose trio's display of care for each other through dignity and integrity, we learn that even in the animal kingdom, good caring friends make life bearable, meaningful, and beautiful.