Northwards, flying home
From a too-short, brown winter;
Dark mountains, give snow.
Haiku by Gentle J. Pine
When I was a child I told my spiritual father
that I had moments of insight,
fashes of understanding, like the wings of swallows
swooping into a city with a message to tell
that humankind must remember.
It was beyond explaining to grown-ups,
though I knew I had to help save them.
My spiritual father said,
“Remember these moments that come to you.
Remember, write them down,
Or they will slip away like birds.”
And I watch the way my thoughts fly
like they do not want to be captured,
cannot be told once and for all time
in the tradition of writing.
I follow the swallows out to the fields,
a pair of lovebirds chasing each other,
friends of the light.
How carefully close they come to the dark earth,
the tall grass brushing their scintillant feathers
like breath, one word of beauty before leaving,
a reminder to humankind
who is forgetful.
Sparrows who come to live in our rafters, here you are welcome to nest. When you fly, will you take with you the undigested weight of the earth? I am not the mighty soul who remembers each one of you falling, but I, I can give you a place for your homes in the hallways above me, welcome your conversations and song into the courtyard in need of trickling water. Your voice taught the stream how to sing. Your Avian voices are water to olive groves, and to orange trees you are the crown. Do you hear all we say here below of you, Sparrows? You follow us into cities to watch over the wanderers, we without wings, who think they must fight to know God. You know a better way, in the trees, travelers of the wings. For you the Creator plucks feathers from Her own breast. Unafraid of the heat or the sun or the winds of the seasons, you are familiar, dear sparrows, to the gardenia of day, to purple jasmine’s desert night. Come, friend of the sunflower, and take with you our prayers and oblations, small birds, those who dip close to the walking world, that we too will find the house of the morning, that we will make our nest in the garden at dawn. Feathers of stained glass, I implore you, remember me who have not any wings, but two legs and full heart to walk to the daybreak of birdsong.
Written at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, California, July 17th 2016
Photo by susannp4, CC0 Creative Commons Public Domain, Pixabay.com
It might be the drive between sparkling, montane Quail Springs and comforting, familiar Fresno which is the most dismal, alienating four-hour drive in all of California. A ghastly expanse of oil rigs puncture godforsaken rock and ash where once were gentle Valley Oak and wildflower savannas roamed by Tule Elk and Bear. Nameless towns of nowhere on dusty highways appear from the no man’s land of big-box fast food stops, gas stations and sketchy motels with blinking neon lights. Any sight of human habitation in the form of neighborhoods are either monolithic tracts of identical mini McMansions, or lopsided old houses supported by tarps and barbed wire appearing to huddle together for dear life (assuming the inhabitants have found strength in community, as I hope). Just to make sure I got the message, I was pulled over by flashing blue and red lights and awarded a speeding ticket for doing a modest 68 in a mysteriously unmarked 55 mph zone, according to the cop, who was just doing his job. And when I, approaching Fresno from a distance still on the lower highway 41, saw that the air was so afflicted by a heavy carpet of smog so as to veil the mountains and the sun’s full shine in a brown haze, I almost no longer believed. At the edge of despair I thought the land was lost forever, when at once, something flashing, flame-shot with gold, caught the corner of my eye. From below the signposts and still grass of the roadside there arose in chorus a great congregation of birds from the earth like a fleet of angels in resurrection. I saw their beating wings catch the morning sun and reflect, in each perfectly synchronized turn of the flock, the red haze of the marred light in a new-made shimmer as if to give unshakable glory to the life eternal which still lives in this world, even in such a time as this. I saw more flocks gather around me as my car traveled on, and they flew overhead and resided there in the air in cadence with my own pace of flight. Their shadow was so dense above me that my sight became for a moment darkened, the outline of each feathered body becoming one. When having passed over me entirely, and, leaving the wake of my movement to myself once again, they seemed to take all darkness with them. And my eyes were wider, restored with light.
A recollection from my time at Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, Autumn 2013
My friend J: Last night I dreamt of angels at play in the high mountain forests of the Sierra Nevadas, as you and I had spoke of them while we walked there in the groves of light. Now, I can’t think of angels as separate from birds. And the conversations between them and us are sustaining the whole world. May light pour into all of you, always.
A door opens to bells: eyes turn
toward the sound to see
the awaited face emerging,
at once the act of revelation,
of birthing and becoming.
The Word became incarnate,
but what became the Word?
The Word is like the body
in this way: what is within us
is beyond description,
spirit yearning after form.
All life longs for the Word
through whom the sound
of The World is heard.
When angels come to earth,
they take the form
I dream of a wood-bird who is living, both animal and plant is its body. It is like an ostrich, but has wood and leaves for feathers. There is also a cinnamon bird, often mistaken for a guinea pig, as people want to subject the magical to their experiments. And there was a giant pelican, like a god; the power of this creature overwhelmed me in awe. This giant pelican does not like to be fully depicted in image. To look at it completely would blind you. If you see part of one, prepare for war of the celestial kind, for these god-birds are heralds. They may appear to you anywhere. I saw mine in a shopping mall parking lot.
Through a dense forest I walked in the wintertime, called to share my knowledge for some purpose, and ostensibly to investigate an abandoned fairy playground. A horse wanted to come with me, but I could not get her over the very high fences. Thick snow covered the path but, my way, I could see clearly through it. All was frozen but I wasn’t cold.
Before me there was a magnificent giant bird; in all dreamworlds I have not seem anyone like him. He was a behemoth Wren, but a shock of blood-crimson color against the snow. Unlike a Wren in every way but that he was shaped liked one. I followed him and he led me through an abandoned barn.
On the other side were giant trees, a hundred times taller than the Giant Sequoias, and the snow was gone, and my breath was drawn from me. The trees breathed in place of my lungs and I became a part of them, sharing in their respiration. Horse found her way in the end.