My lens could not stretch far enough, nor my eyes squint sharply enough, to capture them. The entire road trip, they eluded me. Haunted me. Possessed me like a fire that could not be quenched. My search for this pure white, feathered holy grail.
At the start of our trip, I didn't even know to search for them. But they showed up, elegant ghosts of white on stilted legs, throughout the fields on each side of I-5. We passed them by as blurs, at first, and then I grabbed binoculars, stunned by what came into focus.
Egrets. White heron. A feast of mysterious beauty to my soul.
And from then on, I held my camera in my lap as long as fields and barren plots of dirt were our landscape, ready to catch them at a moment's notice. Determined to memorize the shape and form of their beauty, to carry it home in my camera as evidence, in my heart as a souvenir that money cannot buy.
* * * * *
The sun swept its generous arms across the sky one evening, releasing an armful of color, and as it began its rapid curl inward, I saw them. A pair of them. In a field of brown still illumined in gold. Pull over! Pull over! I begged my husband, as we actually had a rare shoulder to do so and no cars behind us, and he did. I pulled out my camera, fumbling to change the settings to let in more light, my heart pounding at the seeming perfection of this arrangement. They were there, closer than I'd ever seen them. I lifted my camera and then, in a breath, they took to the skies.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry or bow humbly at the holiness of what I couldn't yet put into words. I'm still not sure I can.
No matter how I tried, I could not make them stand still. Otherwordly, undomesticated, intoxicating, they remained in view just long enough for me to notice before lifting majestic wings and disappearing in a sea of sky.
I sought for them in grand places and found them, most often, in the humblest of landscapes. In the wild, yes, but not far removed from us. With us, but not contained by us.
As with my faith, as with catching sight of God across the earth itself, I cannot say, in the end, I was very much surprised by this discovery. But delighted, oh yes. From here on out, I will always be scanning the ordinary fields along the stretches of mundane highway for signs of God, feathered or otherwise.
Joining the community of Small Wonder at Kelly's, where we gather each week to share a moment of wonder.