Have you heard them yet? The geese are flying South for the winter.
I hear them when I am walking the dog, or sitting at the table eating dinner, and when I am lying in bed with the windows open.
I hear them honking - their form of communication - a communication which keeps them engaged in incredible teamwork.
Every time I hear them I remember how much they teach us about what it means to live in community and choose our friends wisely.
Geese choose friends who are going in the same direction. They would not get to their winter destination otherwise. As you have likely seen, they fly in a V formation...when flying in this formation, each goose flaps its wings and creates an uplift for the goose behind it. They fly as a team, taking turns as the leader, trading positions and helping geese who may be tired or sick. Collectively, the geese are able to travel 70% farther than if they were to travel the distance alone.
Traveling through life as a geese does is imperative in the life of a Christian.
We all get tired at different points in our life journey and in our faith journey. Living a life of faith at every age can be very challenging...we will all lose sight of our destination at some point, give into weariness in some way, and have feelings of hopelessness at different stages. If we are with people who get the journey, who understand where we are going, who care for our well-being, and who share our core values...we will find the road much more bearable and much easier to navigate. When we are immersed in community and we stumble, grow exhausted, or face immense struggles, those people sharing in our voyage step in to fly in front of us. They step in to ease our tiredness, our pain, or our sickness by their love, their thoughtfulness, and their prayers. They create an uplift for us because they know the journey of life is challenging but it is community that keeps us going. I will not soon forget the way my family was uplifted by the wings of others in our community when my mother became sick with cancer - the love, the prayers, the cards - there was a smiling face at the door every single night with a meal for our family. Community can create light in the most difficult of life's seasons and is essential to walking through life.
Many young people share with me that they feel trapped in a group of friends who do not share their same values or common goals, or stuck with friends who are unwilling to help them to be the best person they can be. I always remind them...a group of friends is not some tattoo you cannot remove. You can change the friends you choose to travel with when you realize they do not share your values, your goals, or your direction. The geese teach us this simple equation...spend your time and energy with people who do not share your vision of who you want to be and it will surely take you much longer to get there.
So I ask you today...what does your community look like? If you find yourself with friends who do not share a common goal, who are not going the same direction as you...it will be worthwhile to spend the energy to find friends who will get you the 70% extra distance that comes with this kind of community. You can find yourself uplifted by others in your life, and you can be that person who gives uplift to someone struggling along the journey.
May we all channel the brilliant and innate sense a goose has - to choose friends who will help us reach the goal of Heaven and to be a friend ready to uplift those who we are together with in community - for the rest of our lives.