This Memorial was erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission to commemorate those who lost their lives on the Atlantic in World War II. I chose this image because I found its harsh militancy arresting. The eagle is swooping into the image from the left, cutting a formidable figure. It is carrying a laurel, and it stands upon a wave. All is grey and wintry around it—dead. The clouds bring an ominous wind behind it. It is ready to fight.
The eagle is a force to be reckoned with, for its strength, but also for its elegance and grace. We cannot help but marvel at it. Perhaps this is why the eagle is often used in national monuments.
The eagle is also a favorite subject of corny inspirational knick-knacks, usually quoting this passage. These pieces usually show a plastic blue sky with a soft sun beaming on a bald eagle, hovering over verse 31 in golden script. The image is calm and colorful, as if the dominance and sovereignty of the Lord were a calm image.
That is not always true, and I don’t imagine it’s what Isaiah had in mind. I imagine with the threat of Assyria at Israel’s heels, this kind of eagle is more what Isaiah was thinking of, strength and victory.
Verse 22 compares the created to grasshoppers before the Lord, and verse 26 speaks of his ability to number, to name, them. Before the eagle in this image are great stone tablets listing the dead. Certainly the eagle was erected to honor them, but this image shows the eagle in contrast. It is bold and strong and alive in spite of them. It represents the power of God to endure victorious with thousands dead before him.
Furthermore, waiting on the Lord can be a desolate, agonizing state of being—the winter of the soul—and this eagle expresses the sustaining power that can bring us through that agony. It is life in the midst of death. It is resurrection. -- Andrea Thornton