snow geese migration near St Elmo IL, Dave Moody 2What bird is more impressive than the nighthawk as it dive bombs to catch an insect and makes that victorious booming buzz with its feathers when it reverses direction upward again? All you see of it is a dark flash of long, pointed wings or a silhouette high in the sky.

Other realities about the bird are less impressive. It is neither a hawk nor nocturnal, so its common name is inappropriate. Nor does it nest as other birds do but the female lays her eggs on the ground, logs, or rooftop gravel. Here is another case of a bird that does not live up to its billing.

The name may be wrong but the power dive is still impressive. Sometimes the bird is called the “nightjar” and this name captures the fact that a single bird can capture and contain up to 500 mosquitoes in an evening’s work. That makes it my friend, regardless of its mistaken etymology and lack of a decent place to lay its head. After all other people have accomplished much without a place to lay their heads.

We continue our journeys, laying our heads in various odd places. Some places live up to expectations and some do not. Visiting old friends and celebrating their accomplishments does. We visit other churches and often find people who believe in essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity and in all things diversity, or better yet, love. We investigate places where some of our ancestors sojourned in their quest for religious freedom, economic prosperity, or peace at last. Often they had to move on, and we do too.

When we travel there are always lots of incongruities, plenty of disillusionments, and many expectations met and exceeded in any life fully lived. But even if we do not fully live up to our names, if we can catch 500 mosquitoes in one evening and do impressive power dives we must be considered successful.