To Walk or Fly?

Where I live, we have geese. In my world of a shopping mall and a six-lane divided parkway, motorists will stop for geese. The episodes go like this: a mother goose decides to cross the road followed by her goslings. As they venture out, cars come to a screeching halt until the last gosling makes its way to the other side (or at least most of the time).

The other day I saw two adult geese walking across the road. The road just happened to be the six-lane divided parkway. Geese in flight are graceful. On water, they seemingly glide, but when walking across a road, they waddle. The sight is a bit comical unless an automobile is bearing down on you at 45 m.p.h. These geese had to interrupt their walk and take flight. But I had to wonder, why walk across the road when you can soar above it?

The experience reminded me of the parable, “The Tame Geese,” by Søren Kierkegaard. He imagined talking geese who every Sunday would gather for a sermon. One of the ganders would preach the lofty goal that the Creator had for geese. By aid of their wings, they could fly to blessed climes. This was their proper home. Here they were only pilgrims and strangers. The sermon would be met with approval of the geese. They would bow and courtesy at the fine words, and then they would waddle home.

During the week, the geese entertained some thoughts that they would never allow on Sunday. They discussed the dangers of flying. They would recount the tale of a goose who wanted to make serious use of the wings God had given him. A terrible death had befallen him. Other like-minded geese had suffered and grown thin. The majority of the geese concluded: “There you see what it leads to when flying is taken seriously.” Kierkegaard ends the parable this way:

And so the next Sunday they went again to divine worship, and the old gander preached about the high goal the Creator (here again the geese curtsied and the ganders bowed the head) had set before the geese, whereto the wings were designed.

So with the divine worship of Christendom…

I sometimes wonder about our faith — mine included. We live in a convenient and comfortable world. Our world is not so different from the one Kierkegaard critiqued. Are we walking, when God intended us to fly?

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