A broad-winged hawk perched at the top of the dying maple in our field. Claudia heard it calling as she walked toward the car to go to church.
We rushed into the house for field glasses and a camera. When we returned, an agitated blue jay sat on a branch two feet above and to the right of the hawk.
The jay was making a huge racket, all but drowning out the hawk’s softer call. The hawk would slowly turn its head toward the jay and then return to watching the open field in front of it.
After two or three minutes above the hawk, the jay dropped behind the hawk to a branch perhaps five feet below and to the left.
The din continued. The jay returned to its first perch for a couple of minutes, and then to the lower.
Was the jay warning other birds the hawk was near? Did the hoards of young chipmunks which suddenly appeared last week attend to the jay? We drove away without an answer.
I’ve been thinking about the jay and the hawk, projecting bravery on the unpopular bird. So as I’ve poured over the internet news feeds this afternoon, like the jay’s caw, the words of the prophet Ezekiel (37:1-15) in today’s first reading have rung in my ears:
1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
7 ¶ So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 ¶ Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
14 and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Whether the prophet uses words or caws, it’s up to us to hear – or not.