They landed with a splash in the pond behind my house. They startled me as I stood with Nacho, waiting for him to do his "business" on a hot summer morning. They were profoundly unconcerned about the yellow dog watching their splattering touchdown. The two geese came from somewhere, flew some route, and landed here for some reason, only perhaps twenty feet from where I stood with leash in hand.
I pondered their arrival. One landed two seconds after the other, so someone was leading the descent. Had they been in a line, or was one just a little back and off to the side of the other? Why was the one leading at that point in time? Did she know the location of the destination better? Could she have had the task of teaching the other goose where to go or how to land? Was it just her turn?
They were not talking with each other as they came down either, not jabbering the way geese usually do while in flight. In fact, I did not know they were present until the water splashed in two gushing onslaughts. Had they been avidly vocal before? Was there nothing more to say in their own special brand of communication? Was their silence uncomfortable...or actually incredibly comfortable, something rooted in familiarity and ease?
Interestingly, after the water had finally settled, I heard one of the geese give a subtle squawk, almost a murmur, some kind of personal communication to his companion. It sounded to me like "we're here," or "time to rest," or "are you okay?" It was as gentle a sound as I've heard from a goose, and it touched me. It brought tears to my eyes, and while many things elicit emotion in me these days, that soft call from one goose to another squeezed my heart. Why?
Wonderment. It was the act of being amazed, being aware, being drawn into a moment that made me marvel. Wonderment is one of the traits of higher thinking, something noted in the mental ballet of geniuses. It is the profound engagement in what is not easily decoded and the permission to self to be astounded. Wonderment was mine in the presence of these geese.
I don't know how long the feathered couple stayed in my pond. My hectic world called me away. However, the tears that streaked my face as I stepped inside my house were the remnant of my brief communion with the geese. As I dabbed at those tears with a tissue, Nacho kissed my cheek, making a snuffling noise that was not unlike the goose's murmur. This well-trained, domestic animal seemed to have the same gentleness in his communication to me as the one goose had with the other.
Togetherness, direction, peace, rest, purpose...all of these weighty concepts fluttered through my thoughts. Why did this miniscule moment with the geese become an encounter with wonderment? What other moments of beauty do I miss relentlessly in a life patterned by "doing" and not by "being?" How can I help my students live their lives more aware? What does Nacho's presence in my world teach me that I would not have known otherwise?
I found no answers that hot summer morning, this morning actually. I'm still searching, but teachers are great searchers, so I'm content with the hunt. I'm still crying, though, blinking back some tears as I write about the beauty, the wonder this world has to show us, if we would just look and listen. If only.