Tuesday. Blessings of the flock.
You’re walking up the road. The air feels still. Silence reigns between tall trees with lingering yellow leaves. Fallen leaves smell crisp with childhood memories of burning raked piles. In the distance, a logging truck whines. Otherwise, you only hear your footsteps slapping pavement.
Suddenly, up above, all around, dozens of chattering birds surround. From treetop to treetop they call, they tattle, they sing. They dive, they wing between branches, they dance. What kind? You hear chickadee, you glimpse juncos, you see a nuthatch.
It’s the blessing of the flock! All around they create bird magic for you. They sing until you remember your dream-wings, the heft and tilt of flight. Don’t they remind you of seeds everywhere, hidden in bark crevices, to be found when needed and not a second before?
Later, down the road, silence returns. You catch your breath at the mystery of it, the way the flock surrounds and dissolves. How it teaches in a language of feathers and how it can change everything, simply in the arising.
Wednesday This morning one of Barry’s Isle Royale fishing buddies dies. His heart, increasingly weak, finally beat its last. Barry grieves the passing of his friend. He shares story after story of his fishing exploits, his laughter, his uniqueness.
I think how friends bless and enrich our lives so. What would our lives be like without others shining their own selves as they bait hooks, as they drink beer, as they act exactly as themselves, in all their strengths and weaknesses?
Thursday Speaking of the flock, our phone rang all day. Such blessings to talk to friends and family hither and yon, nearby and far away. My daughter carved a pumpkin in the shape of a kitty cat, my mother-in-law survived cataract surgery, my mom and I chatted about all the news at the condo in Florida. A taxpayer called to change his address and we discovered at least twelve connections–including that his son played basketball with my nephew downstate ten years ago! I love the phone. I love how it connects souls, I do.
Friday Nine eager elementary age faces stare up at me, their substitute Spanish teacher. “Como te sientes?” I ask them and we learn the names of feelings in Spanish. Happy, sad, bored, scared, worried. They color masks of feelings on paper plates and I quiz them . “Yo estoy feliz,” one of the little ones reply.
I read them a story about the Day of the Dead. Many of them can’t believe the picture of families picnicking among gravestones. I explain how mamas and tias in Mexico often create delicious treats beloved by abuelas (grandmas) and abeulos (grandpas) who might be lured back to loved ones by the smell of cinnamon or pumpkin.
I pass out pumpkin bread. We lather our bread with honey butter and eat. Two of the boys beg for the recipe. Really? Really? My blessings shined their innocent faces upward. Day of the Dead… Day of Life.
Saturday Barry and I planned to experience something different tonight. We opted to attend the Ninth Annual Northern Lights Film Festival. This year’s festival featured the film “Fifty Lakes One Island” about 80 days on Isle Royale. (Barry’s favorite place in the whole world as many of you know.)
All week we grinned and gabbed about it. We drove up to Houghton on Saturday. We wined and dined and shopped. What a blast! A friend bought us drinks at Habaneros Mexican Restaurant. What a lovely autumn afternoon away from our Little House in the Big Woods.
We finally drove over to the Rosza Center. A jazz band warmed up in the main theater. We decided the festival must be in another theater. A nice usher-fellow guided us through back hallways. The second theater lay cloaked in darkness. We turned to the usher.
“But where is the Film Festival?” I asked.
“Umm,” his eyes darted up and down, “That was last weekend, ma’am.”
Why, you ask, am I listing this as today’s blessing? All our expectations were dashed, weren’t they?
I am listing this as the prime blessing of today because–even though our expectations turned out unfulfilled–we both just smiled at each other. We laughed at our foolish mistake about the date. We viewed the metal sculputre exhibit. We drove home.
I love it when it’s possible to yield to Life instead of expectations. To me, that easy yielding was one of the gifts of this week.
Still, Barry sighed over his Sunday morning coffee and wished we could have watched the film about Isle Royale.
A quiet day. Tree branches click against each other like skeleton bones now. Still, many yellow leaves remain, an oddity for early November, when usually the skeletons wear only brown bark. My blessing for the day? Peace. This last week shone with peace. My heart feels home. It seems it’s taken most of a lifetime to feel this deep peace this thoroughly. OK, OK, maybe tomorrow I’ll be whining or upset or annoyed, but let’s not steal that away from today, shall we?
You’re walking up the road. You’ve no blessings that beckon for today’s story yet. The mind fusses. Suddenly, what’s that? To the left, to the right, dozens of birds chirping, singing, frolicking in tree tops. It’s the Blessing of the Flock again, seven days later!
A raven appears at the head of the road and flies silently, flapping giant black wings, directly toward you. You look upward and see it cross your path directly above. The flock sings in the silence of raven wings.
You walk further and there, to your left, lies a raven feather, stuck straight up with the quill in the earth. You feel its smoothness, its gift, before returning it to the rainbow quilt of leaves.
Do you, dear reader, dear bird, wish to share a blessing today?