What We Need is Here

And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

-Wendell Berry

There's a red-tail hawk that lives, I assume, in the ravine near our house. For the four-and-a-half years we've lived in this neighborhood, this hawk has been a fixture. Based on change over time, I suspect it arrived as a late juvenile and has come into its adulthood here. I can relate.

Often, it rests on a lamp post on the road bridge over the ravine, presumably watching the ground below for the twitch of movement that indicates prey, at which point it makes a dramatic dive from the bridge and disappears into the trees. Other times, though, it sits in the treetops across the street from our house, and I can watch it come and go for the better part of a day. It was one of these days when I noticed a second hawk circling the sky around this one, and the peacefulness with which they shared a relatively small space indicated we now have a mating pair.

Mating pairs of red-tailed hawks can hold the same territory for years, sometimes as much as a decade or more, and because I feel some fondness toward our original hawk, I'm also feeling some fondness toward the new one. Their lives have been part of mine for a while, part of my adapting to life in the city.

My brother and his wife just announced that they're having their first baby in April. I've known for a bit, but it was still on the quiet side until they'd had an ultrasound. Now that they have, I can talk a bit more openly about it, and the thought of my brother as a parent. Thoughts of my own adulthood have been strange only in those rare clear moments, but thoughts of my younger siblings' adulthoods are a bit more complicated. How can my siblings be parents?

I've also been a little saddened by the fact that I will always be the far-away aunt, though I'm sure they'll work to mitigate that as much as they can. For the first few years, though, I'll be a stranger at every visit, which is hard for me to think about. My family has had a complicated year, and while that's thankfully led to a new kind of closeness between my siblings and I that has never really been there in the past, it's also making the distance more noticeable. I've always been thankful to the internet for keeping me connected to the people around the world who make me more myself, but it's a new thing to be thankful for it keeping me connected to my brothers and sister.

Earlier in the week, my friend Bethany linked to a piece called "The Solution is Already With You" by Omid Safi. It's been rolling around in my head contemplatively since I read it, and I find myself reminded of the moment, months and months ago, when I realized that the family I needed existed, I just hadn't been looking from the right angle. The barriers to seeing them as the family I want were very high, and I'd spent so much energy trying to scale the barriers that I hadn't realized they weren't very wide. The option to go around had always been there, but it took twenty-eight years to realize it. 

And so, for all that some things remain not quite what I wish they were, I've found that other things have been there, just waiting to be polished up. Like the neighborhood hawk, who has been absent from the treetop across the street since his new lover arrived, I've been doing some nesting in preparation for a visit from this newly-shaped family in November. While there are aspects of this visit that will likely be tense, there are other parts--and more of these than the other--that I'm really looking forward to. I'm excited to show my home to people who haven't seen it, and to show the neighborhood and city that I'm growing to love, the one that has made an adult out of me.


We're Gonna Change the World Someday