The Eagle


Sunday afternoon

We saw the huge bald eagle

Only thirty feet away,

Near water’s edge,

Swimming toward us

Wings stretched

In a bird-like

Breast stroke;

The whorls, the eddies

Of each stroke that

She had taken

(I don’t know why

I thought it “she”)

Still evident behind her

In the waters

Of the creek. 

What was it all about?

She, known for flying,

Swimming instead?

Caught in a battle

With some osprey?

Perhaps clutching 

A fish too heavy?  

Staring fiercely at us,

She pulled herself

Out of the water,

Flying to a nearby tree,

To dry her feathers

In the sun.  

Then lifting off

Again, and high, 

She flew

Toward the north, 


Was gone.


Native lore says Eagle

Connects the spirit world

And earth—and calls to us

To do the same.

What is that call?

What does it ask of us?


        Judy Brown, April 15, 2014

-from Stepping Stones to be released in Fall 2014, contact us to reserve a signed copy.


My husband David took the picture of the eagle swimming towards us two weeks ago.  On Palm Sunday.   Our house sits on the edge of John’s Creek off the West River, south of Annapolis and the eagle was no more than twenty feet from the living room window. 

What was the eagle doing in the water?  And why swimming toward us, with a powerful breast-stroke that left little whirlpools behind it?  

Our river keeper asked us if the eagle got away OK.  The answer is yes.  It pulled itself out of the water even before it got to shore, and flew to a nearby tree where it sat on a branch overhanging the creek and dried its feathers in the sun for perhaps 15 or 20 minutes.  Then took off flying north, soon out of sight.  But today, it has come back, and for a few minutes perched on the same tree limb and then has flown away again, north

What might I take from this image of the eagle, from the eagle’s plight? What are the lessons, or questions, I might find in this moment of mystery.  Two come to mind.  Perhaps others will occur to you.

  • Native American lore says that the eagle is closest of all living things to the sun and to the great Spirit.  And at the same time eagle maintains connection with the earth.  We might say it has the power to link the spiritual and the tangible, the physical.  The possibilities and current reality. So it asks of me,  “What am I doing to maintain link between spirit and the demands of day to day life.”


  • Perhaps the eagle had battled one of the osprey for a fish.  And had won.  And was holding fiercely onto the fish, and thus couldn’t get out of the water.   Holding onto something too heavy to fly with.  Did the fish escape?  Did the eagle let go of it?  In either case, the question it poses to me, “When am I unable to fly, as my gifts would allow me, because I am holding onto something much too heavy?  Something I have done battle for and don’t want to let go?  Perhaps it’s something I no longer need or want.”  Something that is now keeping me from flight.


  What does the eagle ask of you?