Saturday, May 2, 2015

Skimming and Shadows - Omer Day 29

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

"Hide me in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 17.8)

Sitting at water's edge, 
motion catches my eye. 
A sea bird winging just above water's surface, 
staying close, 
connected by an invisible thread.

Quickly gone, 
out of sight.

Another, in the opposite direction. 
Or the same one?

I wonder,  
do its wings touch the water?
Unable to discern-- 
it flies too swiftly.
A flock of sea ducks, pelicans, or sandpipers skimming low over the water's surface is a common seashore sight. Skimming permits the birds to take advantage of an aerodynamic phenomenon known as "ground effect." The patterns of airflow around a wing that is operating close to a surface are modified by that surface in a manner that reduces drag, the resistance of the air to the progress of the wing. 

Thus, everything else being equal, it is more efficient to fly close to a surface than far from it. But things are rarely equal, which is why birds most often tend to take advantage of the ground effect when the "ground" is water. The ground effect only occurs when the flying object is much less than a wingspan from the surface -- and at such an altitude over land a bird would be continually flying among obstacles, through grass, and so on. Only water is sufficiently uncluttered to permit such close safe passage. (Stanford)
I notice the shadow, 
moving with the bird.

Back and forth, at uneven intervals, 
always just one. 



Flying close to the water, 
shadow is visible. 
Flying higher up, 
shadows cannot be seen.

Today is Day 29, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer.
Today is Day 29, which is four weeks and one day of the journey from bondage to revelation.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is a co-convener and coordinator of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network.

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