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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.

–Hebrews 10:24-25

Each year in late October it sounds and looks like the geese that have enjoyed the open water areas around my neighborhood are taking test flights for their journey south. Usually in the early morning or near dusk there is lots of honking and taking flight until the geese get in their V-shaped formation. Then I’ve noticed they land again. But eventually, by early November they seem to be gone until their return in the spring.

It is at this time of year that I am reminded of the story of the geese and their ‘V’ flying style and the lessons they teach us. The V-formation serves several purposes that improves the efficiency for the geese over their long migrating journey. This formation conserves the energy of the geese as each bird flies slightly higher above the bird that is in front of it, which reduces the wind resistance. And as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following and makes the long flight easier.

Also, when the lead bird gets tired, it drops back to a less strenuous position in the ‘V’ and allows one of the other geese to come forward for a while. And all the honking is for encouraging one another, especially those working hard up front.

When we pay attention to the behavior of the geese, the lessons for our life together become obvious. When we share a sense of community and common direction as God’s people, we journey together more easily and rely on the strength of each other. When we get tired and need to drop back in the formation, we can still take advantage of the lifting power of others on the journey with us. And, we can all ‘honk’ in our own ways to encourage and care for one another.

There are plenty of times, especially over the last couple of years of the pandemic that journeying together, sharing the load and encouraging and caring for one another has been life-giving and life-saving. May we continue to learn from the lessons that are all around us in God’s Creation and may we continue to be thankful for communities of people who can ease our burdens, share our joys, and remind us that together really is our strength.