Beauty in Stuggling

A Double-Crested Cormorant at  Fox River Forest Preserve.

A Double-Crested Cormorant at Fox River Forest Preserve.

I saw the coolest thing ever the other day: a double-crested cormorant catching lunch.

Cormorants are my favorite birds. I love the way they swim and dive. I love the way they perch on high trees and spread their wings. And I love the way they fly: they flap their wings so fast and hard as they wind their way into the sky; I can't help but cheer, "Go little guy, go!" Cormorants are adorable birds.

Unless you're a catfish.

We watched the cormorant dive like we've seen others do a thousand times before, but when it came up with a catfish in its mouth, we shouted in surprised excitement. I scrambled for my camera to get as many shots as possible. I knew cormorants ate fish, but I didn't that they went after fish that big.

Seeing the cormorant in action was an unbelievable gift. Yes, I felt a little bad for the catfish, but the circle of life must go on. (Cormorants gotta eat too.) The whole scene reminded me that life is a struggle, but those struggles are not without purpose, not without beauty. Both the cormorant and the catfish were fighting to live, but as I watched them, I realized that it was less a fight than a dance.

Lord, help me see the beauty in my struggling.

For those few moments, I realized that there is a kind of beauty in my struggles. Perhaps that is the grace that I need more of: Lord, when I struggle, help me see the beauty in it. Maybe that is why I suffer: I am unable to see the beauty in my struggling. And if I can approach the challenges of life--all the disappointments, the worries, and anxieties--while keeping an eye out for the beauty that is present, then maybe, just maybe, I will respond not with fear, anger, or any other kind of aversion, but with compassion. 

God is beauty, after all, and if I can find God in all things, I will be able to find God in my struggles, and where God is, so too is beauty.