Fishing Bird

Just as I looked up, she flew in from the South with her back to me and landed a good twenty-five feet from the sunny side of the pond.  With her wings open and wide spread she gracefully set down in such a way as to show off her plume of sky blue colors offering only the slightest contrast to the early summer cerulean ceiling which fashioned a heavenly roof dotted with modest fluffy white clouds here and there.  The great blue heron paced herself for fishing.  She was earnest but carefully composed in her approach.  

With long strides, she marched over to the nearest beach which is covered in brush and weeping willows and stood there in a full stand as if to survey the possibilities.  Then she marched back out toward the spot where she landed as if to bid me a premature farewell.  But she returned.  And moved around the far side where a year or two ago, I observed one of her friends — perhaps it was her and now she has returned.  I watched her then stand in that very spot, catch her dinner, and raise her neck tall.  I watched the form of a fish descend her gullet.  That was a good day.

The water appeared to be still, but there was a rippling around the naked limb of a small tree I cut down just before leaves browned and the air began to chill last year.  She reversed course again, back up the bank.  She took more time than I would have, but she has more to fear lest she herself become prey to some other creature lurking in the brush.  Perhaps she was watching me and contemplating the level of threat I might pose.  If so, she was badly mistaken and much too cautious, for I offered only curios observation.  Eventually she made her way through the tall spring grass down the bank and she swam over behind the rippling water where she quietly waited until after the bullfrog became fearless with slow croaking base vibrating tones.  She continued on her path around to the cypress knees where she was out of sight to carry out her trade.  

I returned to my reading until she rose up and flew to the dense coverage where she first hesitated.  Momentarily she lifted off again and flew back across to a perch hight on a cypress limb.  She did not delay there for a minute.  Off she went to the North leaving for better prospects.  The entire event lasted a full hour and a quarter.  A most satisfying movie-length entertainment but more fulfilling than a happy ending.  

I am reminded of Peter and his crew after a long night of watching empty nets.  Even expert fisherman come away empty sometimes.  In sunlight the white glittering linen cords scattered the cod; but Jesus told them to cast again.  Against all odds and after defeat had been sounded (Luke 5:2), the fish were willing and the harvest was miraculous (John 4:35-36).  Most impressive!  Jesus prophesying like Jeremiah or Ezekiel with a sign-act meant to reveal God’s inspiration.  Even more than prophets of old, Jesus knows where to find his treasure (Luke 5:7; Luke 19:10).  In record time and with persuasive power, He commands the disciple (Luke 5:5) to extract those who have been drawn to the holy and designated meeting space where He has already directed them to congregate.  That was a great day!

“For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they had taken…. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ Jesus told Simon (because it was obviously miraculous to catch fish in white linen nets in the daytime).  ‘From now on you will be catching people.’ Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed him” (Luke 59:11).

Stephen Williams