Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Owl Who Comes

The owl who comes

through the dark

to sit

in the black boughs of the apple tree

and stare down

the hook of his beak,

dead silent,

and his eyes,

like two moons

in the distance,

soft and shining

under their heavy lashes-

like the most beautiful life-

is thinking

of nothing

as he watches

and waits to see

what might appear,


out of the seamless,

deep winter-

out of the teeming

world below-

and if I wish the owl luck,

and I do,

what am I wishing for that other

soft life,

climbing through the snow?

What we must do,

I suppose

is to hope the world

keeps its balance:

what we are to do, however,

with our hearts

waiting and watching-truly

I do not know.

Indeed, what are we do with our hearts. We could close them off and not see the tragic, but then we would lose the chance to experience those grace filled days of belonging where everything is just as it should be, because that is the way it is. With such radical acceptance we would love the child molester, the dictator, and the cancer cells. We just aren't taught how to handle that pain. Though I engage in a number of spiritual practices to grow my awareness and acceptance, I find that I turn from the sorrow in all kinds of subtle ways. Sometimes though my subconscious lets me know that I have work to do. In dreams, in moments of anger, in depression or withdrawal, and in the times when despair surprises me, I get a hint of how I don't know how to witness the tragic and the beauty as an interweaving whole.

For instance, having seen so much suffering in wild birds kept inadequately in captivity, I chose to leave avian veterinary medicine for a while. It is only after much work that I can engage with people who care of pet birds so that together we can find ways to decrease the harm we do as humans to these birds. I still see the tragic consequences of the pet bird market, but at least now I can interact with people and parrots without suppressing my authenticity, love, and care. I believe I can only do this by growing my heart so that it can hold the pain as well as the love.

What do you do to hold the painful and tragic?

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