WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Beauty Following Us

By Christine Slocum

“I believe in God, only I spell it nature.” 
—Frank Lloyd Wright

It was no surprise to me. Each early winter sunset, I rode my bike home from work and found myself beneath a river of feathers and squawks upon reaching the community center. Thousands of crows would fly in a stream into the heart of the city. I heard rumors that they roosted together in Buffalo’s largest cemetery. Each evening I’d bike home from work, get the car, and pick up my children. Most times when I arrived back at the community center, the crows were gone.

Lengthening daylight in the transition towards spring made this day different. My daughter was staying late for a program and so it was just my seven year-old son with me. It was only three steps out the door before he stopped. “Mama, LOOK!” The sky was full of crows.

Above a cityscape, in a black-and-white photo, a lone crow or corvid spreads its wings mid-flight.

The crows kept flying while we walked to the car. My son marveled at how many there were. “We have to follow them!” he declared, as the tail end of the flock passed us. I looked at the clock. We had nowhere to be for an hour. Why not?

It turns out that “as the crow flies” is faster than navigating city streets, as crows are restricted by neither infrastructure nor speed limit. My son kept his eyes on the birds while I meandered the East Side of Buffalo under the purple-orange sky. I was expecting to end up at the cemetery. At the point where I was sure we lost them, we found ourselves in a neighborhood in transition—a former factory replaced by an apartment complex and a field. New-builds next to century-old dwellings. Tall, old trees. And everything was covered in crows.

Pulled over on a side street, we used the car as a bird blind, watching in the backdrop of downtown and twilight. We were both in awe. I know that crows gather in these large numbers to get safety from predators. I wasn’t expecting it to be in such an urban part of the city.

We often think of the city as being a place of people, but it’s more than that. We never leave nature. Crows found ways to adapt to our concrete forests but we have not yet found ways to make sure we are in balance with the rest of creation. Perhaps through noticing and choosing to honor our interdependence with nature, we will do better.


May we embrace our interdependence with nature, recognizing that we share even our built environments with the world's plants and animals. May we create sustainable lifestyles that honors the world as the home for all living things. May we notice how nature's beauty follows us wherever we are.