Lessons From A Swan … Yes, dear Hump Day Readers, I have created a devotion around swans!! Depending on where you live in North America, you may never see swans in the wild. Thankfully, many zoo’s have these magnificent avians for you to see, enjoy and learn from.
My first-time seeing swans in the wild was at Yellowstone Park—in the winter! We were with our close friends on our first snowmobile ride in Yellowstone. Our anticipation was high and the park didn’t let us down. As we drove in from the West Yellowstone entrance, I saw steam coming off the Gardiner River. There was bird activity on the river but I could barely see them gliding through the open parts of the water. Then I heard the “trumpet” call, it was magical and beautiful. Our friends told us these are Trumpeter Swans.
After that, I read everything I could about them. They are the largest waterfowl in North America, yet when you see their size and watch them dance on water and take off gracefully but still like an F-16, it’s nothing less than amazing. For me, looking for them on our excursions is a delight, especially if I get to see the Trumpeter Swan and hear the “call!”
The beautiful feathers of the Trumpeter Swan almost did them in due to the hat craze in the early 20’ and 30’s. Ladies demanded feathers from swans and peacocks, putting them in an endangered species-ugh. Thankfully that came to an end and these avians of the water are completely protected.
Swans are also “protectors.” Their youngsters are called cygnets—which is the French name for a swan. To me, we are much like those cygnets-really! If they get separated from their parents, they are virtually defenseless. Especially in the early weeks of life they are not able to get food because the parents lead them to the food sources. Cygnets must have even body temperatures to survive—not too hot, not too cold, so the wings of the parents shelter them as they grow. Many baby waterfowl will jump on mom’s back. Swans do it differently. They lay back their huge feathers flat to the water and the cygnet climbs aboard and then huddles down under mom’s feathers for warmth and protection. And, as grown-up swans, those huge beautiful feathered wings will continue to shelter them from cold, hot, and predators as well.
So, can we agree that we are like these swans in so many ways? We need provision, we need protection and a place of safety and security. In this world that’s a tall order to fill. Sadly, we try to accomplish this on our own, just like the baby cygnets will attempt, but then a strong hand, a nudge, a voice speaking to us—and so many other ways—here comes our Lord God, reaching out to pick us up, protect and sustain us, and keep us safe.
God knows that our efforts to do things our way fail quite often. No doubt God would love us to turn to him first but we can be a stubborn lot, can’t we? Yet, God never fails to be right there for us. Like the swan, God glides in so quietly we don’t even realize it until all is well. And this leads me to a “Swan Story” from Psalm 91: 1-5[NLT]:
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
So, the next time you see a Swan in the wild or at a zoo, think about their story and our story and how they are so alike. As you see their beauty, grace, tender care of their cygnets, and incredible flight, stop a minute and thank God for this incredible creation he has made for us to learn from and enjoy. Then, say a prayer of gratitude and thanks that we are sheltered under God’s wings—always. Amen.
*The picture above is one I took of a Swan Family taken at Harriman State Park in Idaho, enjoy!