Sunday Morning: They have chosen us

birds-feeder-spring

It is afternoon — the time of gathering. The long shadows of the day stretch out behind us. I am watching the birds land on the feeder outside our window. Grackles, chickadees, songbirds, and jays. Why have they chosen us? Despite cats, squirrels, noise, human intrusion, they brave everything to return here. I marvel as they make their peace with each other and share this common space…

They take their turns. The songbirds flutter, alight, grab a few grains, and retreat. The jays strut and preen. The grackles swoop down with impunity, take what they will. Far in the background, perched in a small pine tree, the chickadee sits patiently…[and then] swoops in and takes a small grain of corn…The chickadee flutters upward and disappears into the orange glow of evening. She was the last, and now she is gone. But she will be back. They will all be back. Though they have the freedom of the air, they have chosen us.

~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life


Notes:

  • Credits: Thank you Susan for photo from backyard, 4pm, April 24, 2015.
  • Related Kent Nerburn posts

This is Now. Wow.


Alan Watts: My goodness, don’t you remember?

[Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Clouds

cloud and hills, Arizona

Kent Nerburn, The Gift of Clouds, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life:

Years ago I used to drive a cab for a living. There was a blind woman I used pick up at one of the local universities. She was taciturn, proper, almost British in her sense of propriety and reserve. And though she seldom talked, we gradually became friends. One day I asked her what one thing she would wish to see if, for only one minute, she could have the gift of sight. She smiled and thought a moment. Then, she said, “Clouds.” The answer surprised me. Of all the choices in the wide breadth of the world, she had chosen one that would never have crossed my mind. “Why clouds?” I asked. “Because I can’t imagine them,” she said. “People have tried to explain them to me. They tell me they are like cotton. The tell me they look like fog feels. They spray whipped cream in my hand. They move my fingers over paintings of skies and let me feel the shapes of clouds painted on canvas. But I am still no closer to an understanding. Yes, it would be clouds.” […]

As I drove along I pondered her words. I, who saw clearly, spent each day wishing for some distant object — a place, a person, some prize of life I hoped to win. But one who valued sight the most — one to whom it was denied — knew that the greatest gift her eyesight could bestow was before me, unnoticed and unhallowed, at that very moment.

“Clouds,” I thought. Of course. What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God? As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God’s sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream. But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.

“Now, let me ask you,” she was saying, “What is a cloud like?” I returned from my reverie. The traffic was churning angrily on the rush-hour streets. Far above, the clouds were moving slowly, like horses, like carriages, like elephants holding each other’s tails. “They’re like God’s dreams,” I said. “Thank you,” she responded. She did not speak again. But her still, small smile filled the cab with the eloquence of peace.


Notes:

Poof!

bubble-gif-pop

Everything permanent is due for a surprise,
The stopped stunned by the ever-changing.
What everybody always took for granted
Astonishes a second before it disappears.

~ Howard Moss, from section 4 of “Rome: The Night Before,” New Selected Poems


Credits: Image Credit. Poem: Memory’s Landscape

 

When My Time Comes Around…

A ceaseless rustle of wings

moon-birds-migration

I knew without being able to see them that a few thousand feet up, there would be star-reading birds migrating north out of this heat toward our unrolling Wyoming mountain summer: owls, thrushes, orioles, sparrows. I knew that for some birds, migration is almost all they do, nonstop, hundreds of miles north, hundreds of miles south, back and forth, a ceaseless rustle of wings, years shaved off their wild lives with all the effort of near perpetual motion. Once, twenty-five years ago, camping near a waterfall on the Zambian border with Zaire, I had caught a glimpse of a distant flock of birds traveling at night against a full moon, fleeting black cut-out shapes, intent on destination. Often since then, I’ve searched the night sky, and although I have caught the brief twist of bats flitting through currents of insects, I have never again seen that nighttime miracle of birds, secretly stitching together south and north with their hunger, with their collective, insistent, mounting realization of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. […]

And in any case, what life had taught me is that where we come from is a point— not the starting point, not the defining point— just a point. It’s where we are that really counts.

~ Alexandra Fuller, Leaving Before the Rains Come


Photo: Joe Chan

Driving to I-95 N. With Valet.

audi-sports-cars-27297400-1000-750

Let’s hone this story down to the essentials. The peripheral details are a distraction. Or as Bertolt Brecht would say: “And I always thought: the very simplest words / Must be enough.”

It started 3 weeks ago. Her idea. First announced in a two-word text message: Hey Dad.  A mere two-word sentence that is customarily succeeded with cash outflow. The three dots flash: ping, ping, ping, ping. One hand grips my smartphone, the other hand protects my wallet. Here it comes.

Let’s go Dad. Come on. Let’s you and I go.  Just the two of us. Come on Dad.

She’s gainfully employed, and no longer tethered to Mom and Dad. But, she remains fully tethered to the rent-free, food-free, laundry-free and chore-free arrangement — and bathing in it guilt-free.

It will be a Father – Daughter thing. How many times do you think you and I will have this opportunity?  She deftly moves her Dad into position, places his right hand on the fulcrum piece on the teetering Jenga tower, and the tower wobbles and collapses.

OK Honey.

And as Paul Harvey would have said, now here’s The Rest of the Story. [Read more…]

Flying over I-95 S. With Germanwings Flight 9525.

plane-window-touch

Flight departure: 6:59am. From LGA to points South.
A restless night. I’m tossing. Turning. Weary.
Up before the alarm. I shower, shave, dress, zip up suitcase.
And, bolt out the door at 4:30 am.

Good Morning.
This is Captain Greg with First Officer John.
We’ve reached our cruising altitude at 38,000 feet

We’re expecting a smooth flight this morning.

The German newspaper Bild reports that 1.5 hours of audio was obtained from the black box and shows the plane reaching a cruising altitude of 38,000 at 10:27 am local time.

The morning sun beams through the window. The sky is marked with thin wispy clouds, but otherwise steely blue. Another spectacular day on Planet Earth.

The recordings picked up every detail of the co-pilot’s actions – suggesting that he was conscious and alert. “We could hear him breathing. He breathed normally.”¹

The stewardess doles out water and soft drinks. My noise canceling headphones are feeding in Jackson Browne. Sky Blue and Black. I’m in an aisle seat 14D. The aisle is clear. My line of sight to the cockpit door is clear. The door is reinforced with a four-inch steel plate. Gray, cool, steel.

The Germanwings Flight 9525 blackbox audio indicates the captain attempted to break down his flight’s cockpit door with an ax as the Airbus A320 accelerated into the French Alps.²

[Read more…]

I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for

whale-heart-of-the-sea


Notes: Image from movie In The Heart of the Sea via splitterherzen.  Post title quote: Norman Mailer.

 

It is polarizing, and it is peaceful

Britain G8 Foreign Ministers

I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.

I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.

~ Angelina Jolie Pitt, in The Diary of A Surgery upon learning of the threat of ovarian cancer


Image: huffington post