I sat enjoying a few moments alone at home today when an enormous Great Blue Heron flew in from Somewhere and perched itself on our back fence.
It stood there for a long time, regarding me through the window, its thin head turned sidewise. I ran for the camera and slid onto the floor of the living room to get a shot of it, but it flew away just as I prepared to press the button... the kids were ringing the doorbell and something about the sound sent it searching for a more peaceful perch.
The fact that only I had seen the heron made it seem almost magical, and intensely personal. I told the kids about it, and Z stood for a long time at our back door, willing it to return.
Medieval bestiaries were written in the belief that we can learn about God, Christ and morality from watching the natural world, and animals specifically (i.e. "Look to the ant, thou sluggard..."). The heron teaches us to wait patiently for understanding from the scriptures rather than running after false teachings and doctrines, just as the heron waits patiently in the water for sustenance to come to it rather than chasing here and there after its prey.
The heron also flies above the rain clouds to avoid storms, teaching us that we must not allow ourselves, in the midst of life's storms, to become wrapped up in concerns about thunder and lightning, rains and floods, but must remember that above the clouds there is a place of peace, a place of sunshine and cool skies and that this is our ultimate destination, and when the clouds dissipate we will see it more clearly.