Back in the day, our family used to visit a place up north. It was located by a lake and bald eagles lived nearby. Daybreak was their usual time to fish and we could see them dive into the waters from the back porch.
One summer there was a family of eagles nested close to our cabin and their noisy chitter chatter was easily overheard. Some of their morning chatter was intense; it was like they were discussing something of importance. As I would listen, I wondered what they were chatting about.
Sometimes I was graced with seeing the young eagles who didn’t have their white feathers yet. They would hover gracefully over me, checking me out as I stood by the lake. Then they would fly back to their nest where it was safer.
When I reminisce about the eagles by the lake, I consider the themes demonstrated through their maturing process. It’s interesting to note how their molting processes can easily relate to the healing journey.
Studies reveal that a young eagle goes through 4 different plumages until they are 5 years old. Then the regular molting process is established – the process of losing their feathers and growing new ones. This process is complex and takes place gradually and regularly. Before the old feathers go, the new ones have already begun to emerge. This keeps the eagle’s ability to fly unhindered and balanced. Most sources say eagle molts happen annually and it’s in sync with certain seasons.
If we tie this in with the healing journey, we can see similarities:
The eagle’s molting can be likened to rehabilitation. Rehab seasons help us deal with unfinished business while building something new within our hearts. Similar to the molting process, we clear out the things that keep us stuck. We recover from our wounds on a deeper level while being renewed in God’s love and His ways. We get ready to fly in a new balanced way, and the Holy Spirit lets us know the timing.
If the timing isn’t right, we may leave a rehab season too soon because we haven’t really shed anything. If we exit too soon, it’s common to return to the old in order to feel comfortable. Even if we left behind something painful, we may say to ourselves, “At least the old way is familiar.” We aren’t settled yet in what we’ve learned.
If we stay in rehab too long, we may decide to make it our forever home. Doing a new life in the outside world feels too distressing. Out of that feeling, we may decide that the safety of rehab is where we’ll stay nested. So our personal growth becomes inhibited.
Learning to fly free takes courage. As we begin to soar higher, we start to see the view below and the places we used to be. It’s powerful to consider what God has brought us through because this brings a deeper appreciation for what we’ve overcome. It develops determination to keep going; not forgetting what the Lord has taught us.
In Psalm 103:5, it says that God will satisfy your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. If we look at this verse in molting terms, we will be letting go of unhealthy feathers in order to be renewed. The complexity of this isn’t easy. However, we realize we can’t take certain things with us into renewal … the things that keep us stuck or keep us from soaring.
Here is an inspiring acount of a bald eagle being released into the wild after being in rehab – Bald Eagle Release