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Liftoff with God

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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Light from the morning star pierced the moonless night sky. My husband and I followed this light from the "star," actually the planet Venus, to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve near Socorro, New Mexico, where 12,000 sandhill cranes winter. Arriving before dawn, we followed the taillights of intrepid birders like ourselves to a flight deck overlooking a watery marsh.

Bundled in layers against the crisp cold desert air, we silently walked onto the boardwalk. The bold light of Venus reflected in front of us revealing shadows and shapes gliding across the still waters.

The first lines of my favorite book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," played out before my eyes: "The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day." We weren't shepherds, but birders watching over flocks of ducks and geese. The Oscura Mountains appeared on the horizon backlit by an unseen sun. Ducks separated from hummocks of tall grass.

6:20 a.m. A rushing sound gathers and grows until suddenly a swarm of 12,000 sandhill cranes rises in undulating black waves along the horizon.

6:30 a.m. The growing light reveals northern shovelers, their wide beaks scooping breakfast from the bog. Elegant northern pintails with ribbons of white along their swanlike necks float past. Individual voices of snow geese trumpet the coming dawn.

6:35 a.m. The honking suddenly fuses into thunder as 21,700 snow and Ross's geese lift off in unison - so close to us that we can feel the wing beats.

As my husband and I trekked back to the waiting warmth of the car, we glowed in wonder with this sight of a morning liftoff etched in our minds.

Every morning the wintering waterfowl repeat the spectacle. The scene spoke to me of rising to meet the dawn, announcing the end of night, being eager to meet the new day. The enthusiasm, strength, and vigor inspired me.

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