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Viewpoint: The Osprey And Me

By Dennis Edwards

Editorial Columnist

New Journal and Guide

Met a majestically beautiful Osprey a few weeks ago. Sarah is her name. She was walking kind of slowly along the mile and a half path at Oak Grove Lake Park with her wings wrapped around like a long winter coat. She reminded me of some mysterious character transplanted from the pages of Edgar Allen Poe.

Gorgeous is not too extreme a word to describe this Raptor called a Fish Eagle by some or a Seahawk by others. She’s beige, white and brown with eyes that followed me like prey and a wingspan wide enough to soar high and easy above the lake where fish can really be seen.

Our meeting was quite by accident. Normally, folks never get that close to this ferocious fisherman. Evolution seems to have given them “specialized physical characteristics and unique behavior to hunt and catch prey.” Those traits recently lead to its own separate species status. They now call Sarah and her fine feathered family “Pandion” after the mythical Greek King whose grandson Theseus was transformed into an eagle.

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I can’t tell you how fascinating she was. She seemed equally interested in me and why I was there as well. Of course we were in the same place. But for very different reasons. She’d fallen from the trees. The victim, it seems, of malnutrition. My draw was the allure of the perfect place to walk, pray and think. You don’t have to be good at much to do that.

Oak Grove Lake Park is more than picturesque enough for all of those things. But this time, I found myself walking along, considering the broader implications of Sarah’s plight. She got the name from a little girl who almost stumbled over her during a walk with her father. The bird, she says, “just looks like a Sarah.”

What fascinated me about Sarah was the absence of any overt anxiety or fear. There was obviously something wrong. But she wasn’t hostile, defensive or mean spirited. I’m told an Osprey can be all of the above. Yet this one seemed serene, at peace with herself. I guess hunger can do that to anything.

While watching I had to wonder why people aren’t as graceful in tough times. Why a fall tends to bring out the worst in us. In that regard, we all may have something in common with Sarah. People fall down, too. All the time. Sometimes the way we fall is hard to walk away from. Yet in the landing process, we meet folks we would never have met. Not lesser ties. But ties to a different opportunity in life. People whose care and love we’d normally never encounter. Who are there for us not by accident. But, possibly, by Divine design.

May be a fall is just another way God uses to reposition us for better purposes more in line with His evolving will for our lives. Who knows, we may fall in answer to someone’s prayer. Intriguing thought, isn’t it? In that regard, falling down can also represent a fall up into the precincts of kinder souls who can show us heights of love and compassion closer to the ground of our being.

Friends come out of falls, as well, tailor made friends, custom cut to our new adventure in life. Sarah gathered several that day. Some gave her the space she needed. Others went for help. Like a prayer, a call went out to the Park Ranger who then brought in an expert on the things that go wrong with Osprey.

I think we all know how nice that feels. There have been great souls praying for us all our lives. Family and friends who know who to talk to when things go wrong with us. They didn’t call a Ranger. They just called on Jesus who came himself to “see about me” or sent somebody by “just in time” to execute a rescue from life’s inclinations toward the unexpected.

As I watched Sarah’s help take her away, what came to mind is how falls are always temporary. She’s getting fed and strengthened to fly to South America for the winter. So there’s a brief break in a life time of soaring. But for Sarah there will always be the memory of a rough landing among life-saving people who fall down like her sometimes only to get up and fly again too.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award winning Television Investigative Journalist.He is a graduate of Suffolk High School, Virginia Union University and it’s Samuel Proctor School of Theology. Email him at

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