When You Lose Your Feathers

The View from Goose Ridge

Early in June, I snapped this picture from my car window as I approached our driveway. The scene’s familiar: every year new goslings follow their molting parents on a walking tour of ponds claiming the swales and lower ground around here. Back in 2001, I recorded the event in The View from Goose Ridge in a piece called “Grounded.” I hope you enjoy it.

Grounded

When flocks of giant Canada geese return here in late February, they split up and settle on the ponds dotting our ridge. They honk, patrol, and occasionally roost on our roof peak before they get down to nest-building, egg-laying, and finally rearing their goslings.

But once those babies hatch, the parents rarely honk. Nor do they sail to adjacent fields for leftover corn or tender shoots. Instead, they work discreetly, guarding and caring quietly for their young. Unless some predator threatens, those pairs keep a low profile—by choice, or so I thought.

Vernon, our eighty-year-old neighbor, set me straight one day. His family ho gotta stay quiet. Cain’t fly, y’know. Won’t ’til them goslings take wing.” He went on to explain that once the young have hatched, the adult geese molt, losing both flight and tail feathers. They can’t fly for up to six weeks, until their babies start testing their own wings. They are grounded.

This amazed me. Why does God make those parents so incredibly vulnerable just when they need to defend and provide for their young?

I asked the same question when our first child arrived. Before he was born, I felt capable, prepared. After all, I had been educated  for independence, self-sufficiency. My husband Blake and I had worked hard—earning, building, planning.

Then our baby clipped my wings. All at once I needed my husband to make our living, to encourage me, and to cope with my postpartum depression after weeks of baby spit-up and no sleep. My heart melted with love for that soft, demanding little creature, and my own feathers fell off.

I was forced to land, forced to need, forced to depend—on my husband, my friends, my family, and my Lord. I, too, was grounded.

I hated it—then loved it. Without independent flight, I learned to turn to God. Years passed, and I practiced trusting Him through indentured labor as a devoted mom. I learned to live more vulnerably. Rather than hiding my failings, I admitted them. Rather than trying to handle problems alone, I confided in others—especially God.

Now my goslings are fifteen and seventeen, and I often spot them running, flapping and launching themselves skyward for short flights. My own pinions have grown back again and I, too, can venture farther afield.

But I’ll never fly like I did before I was grounded. I want part of me to stay flightless, weak, dependent. Before those days, I never understood what Jesus meant when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I molted when my babies were young. Maybe you molted when the scan showed cancer, your husband left, depression struck, or the money ran out. You watched as your flight feathers loosened, blew across the field and floated down the creek.

Don’t hurry to grow them back. You can’t anyway, you know. But when you reach your limits, when you admit that life is beyond your control and you slump helpless, you can experience another kind of grounding: the deep certainty that God is your “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

In fact, his Word tells us, “Do not let your hands hand limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Our Father would have you cultivate your dependency—your flightless grounding—so that you can experience his groundedness. But how? Begin by simply slumping toward God—and the greatest safety and peace you’ll ever know. When you talk with Him,

  • Admit your weaknesses and mistakes.
  • Speak your need for forgiveness, rescue, and leadership.
  • Ask Jesus to bring you all three.

And He’ll have you soaring in His good time.

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#parenting #hope #molting #countryliving

19 thoughts on “When You Lose Your Feathers

    1. Aren’t geese just wonderful! Reading this post I was reminded of Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese”; a different view of life but inspirational, like your story.

  1. Hi Cheryl A wonderful reminder. I don’t doubt God will use the talent that he has given you. I used your writing as a devotional today. I was reading Oswald chambers devotional for today. If you look on line, you will see they run in parallel. I will post your writing to my LinkedIn. Best Michael

    On Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 12:18 AM Cheryl Bostrom, Author wrote:

    > Cheryl Bostrom, Author posted: “Early in June, I snapped this picture from > my car window as I approached our driveway. The scene’s familiar: every > year new goslings follow their molting parents on a walking tour of ponds > claiming the swales and lower ground around here. Back in 2001, I ” >

  2. What a perfect and beautiful reading for today!
    Have some “old” pictures to go through today, remembering the molting years! Started going through yesterday with my hubby, we had so much laughter. Remembering one picture with our youngest. After graduation he spread his wings, flying to Hawaii to stay! Oh, my feathers had not only molted, but were clipped. Fortunately he returned to our nest within 2 months, yet have found that with my boys my wings must stayed clipped…I tend to want to help keep their struggles at a minimum. Their journey is theirs with our Lord. He certainly is the Controller if All Things!

    Thank you for blessing me this day!

  3. Cheryl that was so beautiful. I remember so well the excitement of our first baby and yet the feelings of loneliness missing my friends at work. Everything was so new snd such a challenge. It was so overehelming. God was good to point out adjustments I could make snd soon find happiness with my new life. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Cheryl, I remember well that chapter from The View from Goose Ridge as one of my personal favorites! I think the advice to 1) Admit your weaknesses and mistakes. 2)Speak your need for forgiveness, rescue, and leadership, should especially be what we practice with our children. Too many times parents, including myself over the years, try to save face with their children thinking that they have to be such perfect godly role models. How much better to admit our own fears, doubts, short-comings and then let them see the Holy Spirit use our brokenness for His glory. Thank you for the beautiful reminder my friend!

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