Anyone who is very close to me knows my dislike for geese. First, they go to the bathroom all over and make a mess. But more importantly, my first memory of a goose was scary. My mom, sister, aunt, cousins and I were at a park with a pond. Suddenly, a goose started to chase us. My mom had me by the hand pulling me to the car as the goose grabbed at my shorts. Today we laugh about the day that we ran away from a goose, but to this day if I see a goose, I give it a wide berth of room and will not encroach on its space.
We Can Learn Something From Geese
Despite my subtle fear and dislike for geese, one day I got curious as to why they always fly in a V-formation. It turns out, geese have pretty good instincts. Flying in a V cuts down on wind resistance. The one in the front takes the brunt of the wind. When that goose gets tired, it moves to the back of the V for rest. The closer to the front of the V-formation a goose flies, the more resistance from the wind it encounters.
Each goose getting to alternate its place in the V helps all of them conserve energy and fly further without needing to stop. Now, no one ever took a physics textbook out and explained this scientific reasoning to a goose, so I think it is amazing how animals can be so creative and adaptive all on their own. Sometimes, I suppose, we as humans can even take some lessons from animal behavior.
The Need for Community
Thinking about this flight formation of geese, reminded me of the need for community. The year 2020 with the shut down and isolation are not too far from our minds. However, it is easy to get back into the hustle and bustle of our to-do lists and obligations and forget just how much the simple act of being able to gather in community meant back during the height of the pandemic.
Why do you suppose that is? What makes community so valuable? I believe, simply put, that there is comfort in knowing that someone else is there to support us when the going gets tough and to celebrate when life is going well. We also gain meaning and purpose in life when we are investing in the lives of those around us.
Everyone Needs Support Sometimes
We can sometimes be in a season of life when we feel strong and capable. We can be that “goose out front” cutting the wind resistance to ease the burdens of those around us. But even the strongest person cannot remain out front alone forever.
Just like that lead goose gets reprieve and rest knowing another will move up into its place, we need community surrounding us that we can count on to step in when we have hit our limit and need refreshment.
What Happens When There is No “Emergency Contact”?
At our clinic, sometimes we encounter people who find themselves without a community support network. Sadly, sometimes even the emergency contact slot is left blank, because there is just no one to call. Life lived alone gets very lonely very fast. Our clinic staff work not only to help with medical concerns of those patients, but also to connect them to community resources and with a church (if the person is interested) to begin building a network of support.
Life is not going to stop going forward day by day, and we certainly are not guaranteed that it will be easy. Since we must keep pressing forward, we need to intentionally surround ourselves with people who will be there for us in good times and challenging ones. We also need to remember that community is not just about what we can gain from relationships, but also about what we can give. Offer support, encouragement, advice, love and time to those who are important to you.
A Challenge for You
I would challenge you to spend some time thinking this week about who is in your community or who around you may be lacking in community. Then be intentional about building meaningful relationships with the people around you. When we recognize that there are seasons in life, and we become unashamed of asking for help and gladly willing to offer it to others, then we can work together to combat exhaustion and make more progress, just like the geese.