Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vultures - March 2, 2010

Like large dark


butterflies they sweep over

the glades looking

for death,

to eat it,

to make it vanish,

to make of it the miracle:


...Locked into

the blaze of our own bodies

we watch them

wheeling and drifting, we

honor them and we

loathe them,

however wise the doctrine,

however magnificent the cycles,

however ultimately sweet

the huddle of death to fuel

those powerful wings.

For National Bird Day 2010 I gave a sermon, Cultures and Vultures where I lifted up the possibility of a nature spiritual practice through the construct of integral theory. With this theory we look at vultures and imagine what it is they are thinking and what they mean to us. We also see where we might resonate with one another. Looking at vultures twirling on rising spirits above us, I wonder how it would be for everyone to resonate with death tens of times a day - for this is how common a sighting of a Black or Turkey vulture is in Gainesville. Mary spoke of death and extinction yesterday in her poem, Ghosts, however death is not a ghost or a dream. It is with us everywhere, which so means that life and birth and creation is everywhere with us, in every moment. Oh that we could have faith in this wise doctrine of death to life and life to death. Perhaps we can, if we remember to look up and look within.

What do vultures mean to you? What reminds you of death throughout the day?

1 comment:

  1. I can resonate with your use of vultures as symbolic of all of life with death being one small part. When I see them along a road trying to get their meal without getting hit by a car themselves I appreciate their value to our environment, cleaning up after we humans. Being big they are somewhat intimidating. I wouldn't want one to hit my windshield or get in the engine of the airplane in which I was riding. On our recent 'nature drive' we saw several sitting on a rail fence drying their wings like an anhinga. They look small drifting with the air currents. Their wing span is huge when seen up close.

    We take death for granted in things other than ourselves. I do not think in terms of my own death when I look at all of the plants killed by the freeze or hear an insect that gets too close to a porch light bulb sizzle, or watch ants scramble to save their eggs when their hill is disturbed. Since we are part of this planet, we should expect to die, hopefully of old age. My little experience of such was reported by my sage grandmother. In the fall she would list the people she thought "would not make it through the winter this year". She was usually correct. One year she took in an old man who lived down the road a piece who had no relatives anywhere. When he died his body was placed on her enclosed back porch until spring. "The ground is froze you know. Nobody can dig a grave now." His body froze and stayed that way until the spring thaw when he was buried in the cemetary.