An Amazing Birthday Vision

First, for the zillions of amazing and generous birthday greetings via Facebook…Thank You.

Every year, I forget just how amazing this is, this Facebook-Birthday-Greeting-thing.

Very likely, while I write/post this blog, I will receive the five HUNDREDTH Facebook greeting. No joke. It’s shockingly wonderful.

It’s always beautiful to hear from the incredibly diversity of my friends…church folks… clergy… musicians… political friends… general cool people I’ve met along the way.

Thanks, friends. It’s humbling, and it means a lot.

But I need to write tonight about what happened on today’s bike ride, just a few hours ago…

As some on FB will know, I’ve been riding around White Rock Lake twice week. I start at the trail head for White Rock Creek Trail. It’s a gorgeous and meditative 24 mile ride.

I know some will find this crazy, but more times than seems predictable, just the right song will come on at just the right moment when the iPod’s on shuffle. I’ve taken to calling it “the iPod gods.”

Keep in mind, I have something like ten DAYS (Yes, days) of music on my iPod. (Something like 3300 songs.) But, the number of times that just the right song “happens” to come on at just the right moment strikes me as improbable. I am willing to consider that maybe it’s just the “meaning” I, as a listener, assign to it.

But the truth is that I believe it’s Grace. Or Synchronicity. Or Kairos-time. Or a ghost in the machine. Whatever phrase you use to describe such mystery.

Case in point.

Tonight, I got to one of my usual stopping places on the ride: Sunset Bay. I sat down on the bench for a few moments, to rest and take in the view. The next song that comes on the shuffle was Dan Fogelberg’s “Icarus Ascending.”

Non-Dan-Fans will likely not “get” what a great song this is. Here’s a blog I wrote about the song(read the first part of the blog). A part of the lyrics form the inscription on one of the three main “stones” in the Fogelberg Memorial in Peoria, Ill. Several times during that weekend, someone read Dan’s own thoughts about the song and what it meant to him (You can read those thoughts in that blog entry…)

As I say in the blog, I listened to the song about a zillion times on the way home. And I’ve learned to play it myself. It’s just a great, great lyric. (Read the whole lyric here.)

That song came to epitomize the Fogelberg Weekend for me, then. And, in many ways, it feels like a song of Dan’s that speaks to me more strongly, as a musician myself, than any other over these past few years.

So, I knew I needed to be on the bike, and moving, during the song. After all, this is a song about flight, about pushing yourself, and trusting the journey; not a song about sitting on a bench.

So, I jumped back on the bike, and headed out. The next section of the trail, just past Sunset Bay, routes you in front of Winfrey Point. It’s a gorgeous part of the lake. And today, it was calm. Not a hint of breeze. It was a little over 90 outside, and the sun was still high enough that the water was a gorgeous blue.

So, I pick up speed, and the second verse of the song comes on. I’m pushing myself, enjoying that amazing connected between bike, lake, and song…

“Venturing further than the length of your sight
Out past the reach of your beginnings
There is a gamble in each proud act of flight
But the losses pale before the winnings
Circling and diving with this freedom you’ve found
Illusion blows apart and scatters
There is no darkness in this place that we’re bound
Love is the only thing that matters”

All of the sudden, completely dominating my field of vision, was a gorgeous Redtailed Hawk. I mean, a HUGE hawk. A full-grown bird…soaring in off the hillside, at eye-level…about three to four feet off the ground…and no more than five feet in front of me.

I am not kidding when I say that it was about five feet in front of me, swooping in toward something it saw at water’s edge. The whole thing only lasted a second or two. But the image of the fully extended, strong wings…the feathers…the eyes, even…everything was clear and frozen in that moment, as if time stopped.

And I have also already written about my love of hawks. Here, for example.

It looked almost exactly like this, but even closer, and with the talons up:

(BTW, this picture, courtesy of the Peoria Audubon Society…kid you not…it was the hawk picture I just thought looked the coolest, and this is where it’s from….)

The whole moment lasted a matter of seconds. Within two more seconds more, the hawk was pulling up at the lakeside…about ten feet past the trail. And I was whizzing by.

I literally yelled-out at the sight so loudly that a mom and her kids on the trail 100 yards in front of me all turned around.

Keep in mind, I was probably traveling 14 or 15 mph.
The hawk? It was probably going at least that.

Had I been two seconds earlier, I would have crashed into it. Five second after that, I never would have seen it (it would have been behind me…) The idea that it could swoop in front of me, and just that close, is amazing.

This is one I will ponder for a while. An amazing birthday vision…a proud of act of flight…right as I was listening and thinking about that very song and message.

(As always, if you like this post, then “like” this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too…)


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

2 thoughts on “An Amazing Birthday Vision

  1. Don't think you know this – We have a red tail buried on our property. His name was Captain Hook, Cap to his friends. Years ago his eye was shot out and after rehab he could not be released back into the wild. He would not have survived with only one eye. Andy's late partner, Penny, was his care taker. That is actually how I got to know Andy & Penny – through Cap. They used to bring him to Kerrville for the festival. In his honor our place is named Turtle Hawk Rest.

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