A few days ago, I noticed a group of five falcons flying together. In my area, it’s not uncommon to see a pair, but five together is pretty remarkable.

I stopped and admired as they swooped and swirled amongst each other. Watching them, I realized it was a family. A mother & father, taking their babies out for flying lessons.

After a few moments, the parents peeled off and began heading East. Two of the offspring followed, a bit wobbly as they dropped into a new air current, but they recovered quickly and were soon gliding along with ease.

The last one, not so much.

At first, it kept circling the area, trying to find its way into a new air current. I watched as it flapped to catch a gust, only to wind up back in the same loop.

As its family glided further into the distance, it began to panic. Its flaps became harder and more erratic, and it started crying out.

Inevitably, the incessant flapping pulled it into a new air current, one headed in the opposite direction.

It was screeching in earnest now, enough to call the attention of a parent, who swooped back to supervise. (The rest of the clan continued on, and within moments were completely out of sight.)

The youngster carried on with the flapping and screeching, its parent smoothly gliding in circles off in the distance. Waiting and watching. Providing steady presence, but not intervening.

Meanwhile, baby scrambled to get itself into a current heading the right way, only to wind up drifting in the opposite direction. More flapping. Even more screeching.

Despite all its efforts – or rather, because of its efforts – it was moving farther and farther from where it wanted to go.

Eventually, it caught a current headed due East. It flapped a few times, wobbling in the air like a child on a first bike, and then, finally, it settled itself. And soared.

Mama (or maybe Papa, I hate to assume) flapped twice to join the same current (so effortless!), and together they glided off in the direction of their kin.

Seeing that young bird reminded me so much of myself when life throws me a curve and I suddenly find myself off track.

I would like to say I handle these moments with the calm grace and ease of an experienced flyer, and (very) occasionally I do.

More often than not though, I find myself flailing around, feeling lost and panicked, and struggling with all my might to find my way back. I won’t admit to flapping and screeching (okay, yes, I will totally admit to flapping and screeching. And crying, praying, and copious amounts of peanut butter).

In these moments, I feel totally disconnected from the Divine. Cut off from the vibrant, vital energy that flows through us and to us all the time.

What I’ve forgotten is that God is RIGHT THERE. Like Mama (or Papa) bird, the Divine is watching as I struggle, providing steady presence and patiently waiting for me to find my footing and realign myself with life’s supportive flow.

God’s waiting isn’t out of meanness or a desire to see me struggle, but because Divine wisdom is infinitely greater than my human intelligence, and there’s a bigger plan at work than my brain can possibly comprehend.

What I’ve come to understand is sometimes I need to struggle, so I can find the ease. Sometimes I need to get thrown off course, so I can better recognize when I’m on track. And sometimes I need to flail about in chaos for a while, so I can find my way back to peace.

Which seems to return the minute I stop flapping and screeching, come back to the present moment, and remember these simple truths:

I am always safe.

I am always held.

I am infinitely loved.

And so are you.

P.S. For a video of the hawks together, check out my FB post