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I still remember last spring’s epiphany. It was bone silent, mysterious. Outside my opened window, night’s remnants slicked the fresh-leaved redbud tree with Van- Gogh-like brush strokes.

A solitary chirp nudged the stillness. It was beginning. More chirps swelled the darkness, intermingled by piercing trills; then warbles; then whistles; then pipes; then chucks; then full-throated songs colored the tracings of light in the sky. The chorus became unbearable until it subsided into isolated sighs. Then, stillness returned like a brooding mother upon her clutch.

With the stillness came the imprint of having been touched, deeply; in its wake, an impetus to prayer, in any expression: contemplation, dance, words, or painting—Whatever it took to honor the experience and share it with others before being lost in busyness: anathema to the spiritual.

In other centuries, birds were revered for their supernatural powers as co-creators and messengers of the gods. The Raven was one of these; it was venerated by natives along the Pacific Northwest for bringing light to humans, lost in impenetrable darkness. Closer to our time, the Brothers Grimm’s discovery of two folk tales, “The Raven,” and “The Seven Ravens,” nuanced the folklorists’ imaginative handling of this image as it evolved through time.

The seasonal presence of birds, especially at dawn, speaks of a Divine order at work, now as well as in the past. We have only to be still and listen and allow their color-sounds to swell us with hope.

 

 

Splat! Upon my hood, winds shake raindrops from overarching maples. I stop in my tracks, the sleeves of my slicker glistening with wetness like tears filming the eyes of a new mother.

I am alone.

Ahead of me mounts the asphalt trail, stippled with leaves: greens, coppers, browns, and mustards, with snatches of scarlets—denuded by fall’s encroachment. There’s no stopping her. A solitary raven caws. I look up. Clouds hover over this wetness like a seasoned gardener mulching flowerbeds. A droplet disengages a shrunken leaf from its mooring and spins it to the forest floor littered with twigs and dried stems. Musk pulsates from every pore of this wetland.

Such seasonal stripping reminds me of grace, subtly detaching us from the outworn, that which no longer sustains our spiritual growth. We dare not ignore this imperative.

 

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