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falconI really enjoy the word, “distress” because in wordplay it really means de-stress. De-stressing is a good thing, in case anyone wondered, whereas “distress” is rather unpleasant.

I don’t like to drive very much.  It’s a bit irrational, I’d jump out of an airplane or cross the open ocean in a kayak, but driving always gives me pause. You put me in a car, in unfamiliar territory, in city traffic, on a hot day, and you’ve really hit my mother lode of all distress. To top my anxiety off, just give me a car with potential quirks so I can worry about mechanical issues too. Add in some major construction so I have no idea where I am, can’t even spot any recognizable landmarks, and no one else on the road seems to know where they going either, and we’re really having us some fun.

I once followed a guy in a white SUV for 50 miles simply because he seemed to know where he was going with some confidence. That was good enough for me.

For those who don’t know, Seattle is always horrible, but in the past few years it’s gone from horrible to just beyond all reason and common sense. I actually got ushered into a parking lot between two precarious looking cranes by a stressed out traffic cop who called it “*&$#% gridlock parking.” Apparently that is where they now place all the cars while the guys who hate their lives try to figure out how to integrate traffic on holiday weekends.

After about 45 minutes, I bravely asked what I was doing there and he said, “you’re in *&$#% gridlock parking,” as if that explained everything. I guess it sort of did. Poor guy. I eventually got him to smile or at least to snarl. Not quite sure which, but his teeth were showing.

I eventually white knuckled it out of the city, my hands so firmly gripped on ten and 2, I thought I’d better stop to pry them away and shake it all off so I could enjoy the rest of the trip. So I found a beautiful lookout, stretched my legs, and decided to pray. Take it all away Lord, the heat, the anxiety, de-stress and fill me with your peace. I finished praying, looked up, and there on the hill was the most  perfect cross with a falcon perched on it. And there He was, His peace, His presence, and all was suddenly well with my soul. Prayer really works and answers come if we just know how to look for them.

I think that falcon followed me for my entire trip, because every time I looked up there he was.  And when I arrived, on the hill above me was yet another cross with a falcon sitting on it, just as I had seen when I first began.

Perhaps it was not the same falcon at all, but it sure felt like it. Perhaps that cross was really an old marker of some sort, a phone pole perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter, my eyes went right to it each time and I knew it was there for me to see, for me to take note of and be comforted by.

Falcons are thought to be guardians, birds of prey with some amazing focus and vision. I have that same kind of focus when it comes to spotting crosses when I need to de-stress. I can tell when my eyes are being drawn in a beeline, when I don’t even know what I am looking for. It feels like zeroing in on target, as if He is whispering to me, look over here and feel my presence.

So, today I am exceedingly grateful for His presence, for the cross, and for the falcon,too.