Sunday, January 8, 2017

The wishes of birds

I follow the wishes of birds.

I hear them calling to me in the morning, to bring out seeds, cracked corn, suet, when the low sun spills its amber across the blue-shadowed snow.

Giving to them is a gift to me. Always, they touch my heart with their joyful presence. I watch their thrilling flights from branch to feeder. Recognize the life in them—their bright eyes, quick flutters, down fluffed against the cold, foraging to survive as does every living thing on this earth.

When you look at any being with eyes of love, you witness its divinity, its personhood.

You recognize the animating sacred spark of life you share. You feel akin. Then you want to help.

So you bring seeds.

It helps each of us to survive winter.

Before dawn, in spring, the lone voice of the cardinal singing out in darkness means everything to me.

How can this one song pierce my heart so with joy and sorrow? I lie awake and listen.

While he sings, the whole of my life feels held within that song, beginning with the most precious gift we are given: the sweetness of being, of life throbbing through us, in oneness with the cardinal and every other being. Because this loneliness, this sense of separation is an illusion, say spiritual masters, philosophers, quantum physicists.

Coming out of my dreams, wakened by by this heartbreaking beauty, every sadness floods through me, every happiness, what feels like the deepest measure of my existence as a living being in this world.

My heart then whispers its own kind of song in return, reminding me how brief is the life of a songbird and a woman, but how beauty remains despite grief and death. The feeling of the beauty and the grief together, its poignance, the sense of timelessness and eternity and oneness: I cannot put that into words at all, only tears.

Sorrow sweeps out your house so that new joy can find space to enter, said Rumi. As they beguile open our sleeping hearts and call forth joy and sorrow, singing to us of how ephemeral yet eternal life is, the birds bring us even more gifts: To weep is a gift. To love, a gift. To sorrow, a gift.

Seeds. Also a gift. But perhaps a small one, considering what wonder has been received.


  1. Well this is just what I needed to hear right now: I realise I've got to go out and feel my connectedness as in recent days I've isolated myself too much. I don't like living in some hollow apartment...I wish I were back in a house in the woodlands. When I was a child, I used to keep an eye out for the one cardinal in our neighborhood during the winter: this spot of red aliveness always helped keep me feeling alive too. I was so glad when I had my studio in Minneapolis to look out...and see a cardinal! Much of the winter he was out there. And I was always looking for my fave squirrel, it was an albino, I might have mentioned in the past. It was hard to see that white squirrel among the snow. I miss that squirrel. Somehow I really liked being there last autumn and winter. Maybe I'll return to the midwest one day.

    1. Being visited by a cardinal makes one feel especially honored, it is one joy of having the space for a bird feeder and garden! Thank you for that memory, Reifyn.


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