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Silly Goose

08 January 2022

Lessons from Nature part 2: Silly Goose


Geese, it turns out, are far from silly.  I was reminding myself of the value of the ‘V’ Formation used by Geese, Gulls, and Fighter Pilots.  One wit said, “Why do Geese fly in ‘V’ Formation?”  Their answer was, “Because it would be way too hard to fly in an ‘S’ formation!”  Back to serious.

The classic ‘V’ Formation is a gorgeous triumph of behavioural aerodynamics.  Each following goose flies slightly higher than the one in front.  The resulting reduction in wind-resistance means they can fly for longer, using less energy – and thus boosting efficiency.  When migrating, this can make all the difference… and aren’t all Christians on The Great Migration?


Another bird that uses the ‘V’ Formation is the Pelican.  The research I read says that a Pelican flying alone has to beat its wings with greater rapidity resulting in a higher heart rate.  This is great if it wants to lose weight but not so good for feeling refreshed and unstressed.  I think we have much to learn from this.  A lone Christian is an exhausted Christian… bait for the enemy.


“Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Firstly, no Christian has to fly solo.  I’ve seen three ducks – when there were only three ducks on a pond together – fly off in ‘V’ Formation.  That could be you and your fellowship buddies.


Secondly, all ‘V’ Formation flocks rotate the leader.  I love that we have a different Members contributing to the services – both to our Services of Worship and the other services that keep our church engaged in the community or functioning as a church fellowship.  Our diversity is our strength. Thus, it becomes clear that our members have favourite ‘V’ groups that they feel resonance with and want to be engaged with… which segues nicely into…


…Geese make a lot of noise when they fly (which you’d think would use up a lot of energy.  It’s like my blooming personal trainer at the gym I used to go to in Aylesbury.  They’d wait until I was exhausted and then come and chat to me when I’m on the machines!!!)  For the Geese, the energy expended must be worth it.  My trainer was building our relationship.  The reason Geese honk, given by many commentators on bird behaviour, is that Geese honk from behind to encourage the leader and the flock.  Let’s keep honking!  Honking, that is, at one another for encouragement this year!  Geese hiss at threats, not at one another!


“Let’s make some noise, people!  Give it up for our Fellowship!!  Go for it with all your heart!”  (Though keep it down a bit on the Quiet Days, OK?)


Thirdly, the ‘V’ shape is ideal for keeping an eye on all the flock members – think of the, “Be watchful,” part of 1 Peter 5:8.  There are even some wonderful accounts of two geese leaving the formation when a member is down – through injury, sickness, or exhaustion.  The two friends stay with the member who is low until there is a recovery, and then the three geese will join another passing formation.  Christians – Believers - look after their own.


Finally, borrowing Churchill, ‘V’ is for Victory.  Here’s to a year where we fly higher together, where we help lessen the burdens on one another – bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ* - where we rotate the lead, where we honk encouragement to one another every day, and where we watch out for one another, being prepared to take time out with any member who is down – staying loyally and faithfully with them for as long as it takes.


I finish with a Masonic story.  One of our connections had a husband who was very active in the Masons.  He got sick.  As if by magic, the support he got vanished.  Let us assert that one another’s value to the Body of Christ is in no way proportional to what they can ‘do’ for us.  Christ died for us all and that is, by far, a big enough statement of how valuable you are – at all times, in sickness and in health, til death do us promote to that higher flying flock.


[See Galatians 6:2 for the Law of Christ, and Hebrews 3:13 for Daily Encouragement.]



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