As I often do, I come in the morning to my back porch and sit on the flowered and comfortable couch next to my dog Ginger. This morning I took some time to just breathe and listen. And what I heard loud and clear was the sounds of the birds that seemed to be all around me. I cannot describe in words what I heard. I found myself writing words like - "chirp" "Sing" "warble" "Trill" "Caw" Shriek" I could not tell where the birds were - how close or how near. The sounds kind of rose and fell as I sat there.
Ginger is VERY attentive to all sounds and sights as we sit. When she spots a bird or a squirrel actually in our back yard she makes it very clear that she needs to go outside to run around in a circle and bark and assert her primacy. Surely she doesn't think she is going to catch them?
Anyway, it is beautiful and awesome just to consider the beauty and the wonder of it all. I sit and see the" both- and " of life even in these moments as the wind comes and goes, as the sounds rise and fall, as the light in the porch changes from the clouds. And I feel alive. And grateful.
I read a chapter this morning in Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. She quotes Joseph Campbell
People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life,
I don't think that's what we're really seeking.
I thing that what we're seeing
is an experience of being alive....
so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive.
And somehow on the porch this morning I get it. I know it is pretty tame as the world views it all. I read an article in the New Yorker yesterday about a young man who joined ISIS in order to feel alive.
And I know about how extreme sports, or gambling or love affairs or all kinds of things may be a way of seeking aliveness.
Elizabeth Lesser writes:
When I look at the pinched faces of television evangelists or the rigid bodies of angry activities marching in mobs, I want to take them aside and rub their shoulders, wipe the furrows from their brows, feed them something delicious and make them laugh. I want to say: "It doesn't have to be so intense, so fierce, so acrimonious. You can work to ease the ills of society, and at the same time you can love the world with all its sorrow and beauty. You can serve your God without being so uptight about it. You can feel the simple rapture of being alive and let that rapture be your North Star. You can be led by quiet joy."
That is what I want for myself. As I served the church there were certainly times of experiencing tension and even (inside myself) acrimony. There is no question that it is easier in retirement to take the time and step back and see the oneness of life. But even now, it is easy to lose that peace and awareness and aliveness and go back into critical, controlling, anxious thoughts and behavior.
So I am grateful today for today and the moments of clarity and wonder. One of my favorite books of all times is Anthony De Mello's The Song of the Bird. I think of that today.
The Song of the Bird
The disciples were full of questions about God.
Said the master, God is the Unknown
and the Unknowable. Every statement
about him, every answer to your questions,
is a distortion of the truth."
The disciples were bewildered. "Then
why do you speak about him at all?
"Why does the bird sing? said the
Not because it has a statement, but because it has a song.
The words of the scholar are to be understood. The words of the master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird.
They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.
They will bring us to life!