We’ve seen them other years, stopping very briefly on their way to other destinations or merely flying over—but this year, two (and sometimes three) lingered for weeks. The deep-throated trombone of their voices was an exotic addition to our usual local symphony, putting the normally dominate swan trumpeting to shame, and for awhile, they would even sound off like clockwork around 5 AM every morning. Who needs an alarm clock, my husband and I would mumble groggily to each other, when you have sandhill cranes in your back yard?
I expected lots of photo opportunities, but there was one thing I hadn’t figured on, and that’s how alert these big birds are. That was coupled with the fact that they generally feed in the open fields, where there is little cover for a hopeful photographer. I made a couple noble efforts, but to no avail. Off they’d flap, every time, noisily warning to the rest of world! “She may not look like a wolf,” I could imagine them croaking knowingly to each other, “But she may be a wolf in human clothing.” They weren’t taking any risks when it came to suspicious creeping in their direction.
On one of these attempts I discovered that I wasn’t the only one curious about the newcomers—but this inquisitive deer had a little more luck with close-ups than I did.Frustrating as it was to have my designs foiled time after time, I had to begrudgingly admire these giant fowl’s sense of awareness though. It reminded me of the sobering topic we’ve been studying on Wednesday nights at church, and in particular, this verse:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
It would seem that we all could learn a bit from the sandhill cranes, who never seem to let down their guard, who not only see and flee at the first sign of danger but warn everyone around them of it, too. Sometimes, instead, we’re a bit too much like the pair of twin fawns I encountered the other day (unfortunately without a camera in hand), who naively wandered out into the middle of the road to sniff the tires of my paused car. “Look, isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it shiny? It doesn’t look like those wolves mother is always warning us against. Surely it won’t hurt to take a closer look!” All the while ignoring the frantic hoof stomping of their mother from the safety of the ditch, quite oblivious to the fact that I’d just come within inches of running them over and that someday a hunter will not merely sit there admiring their pretty brown eyes.
Hopefully, before it’s too late, they will learn, as the sandhill cranes know, that danger does not always come packaged in sharp teeth and furs, and that it’s better to be wary, listen to the warnings from those around you and do your research of the unknown from a safe distance.
And hopefully, each of us does, too.*
“[Therefore] Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
*For more in depth instructions on how to identify and withstand the spiritual enemy I’m alluding to here, see Ephesians 6:10-18, or check out the excellent study guide we’ve been using over here called Spiritual Warfare: Overcoming the Enemy by Kay Arthur and David and BJ Lawson.