“I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” – Terry Tempest Williams
Each day as I walked along the Merrimack River last fall, there were a few dozen Red-winged Blackbirds singing in the top of the tree alongside the river. They trilled, they chattered, they called out a sharp “chak chak chak” sound, making certain that all knew of their presence along the river as they formed their flocks each evening, swirling about, diving head long into the marsh grasses and Phragmites like some daring stunt pilots dazzling an audience of spectators. I watched them spell-bound as they careened about along the edge of the river, flashing their red wing patch as they veered left and then right and swirled in to the marsh grasses in a flurry.
They were a loud group, a boisterous crowd, which broke the reverie of the quiet as I walked along the river’s edge. Despite the fact that I expected each day to see and hear my raucous friends as I walked, I was startled from my own mind that often spun like the chattering flock of glossy Red-winged Blackbirds. Once brought to my senses I would stop to marvel at the racket they made and laugh at their antics swooping about in the large swath of Phragmites along the river.
Day in, day out, as I walked past their riverside haunt the red-winded blackbirds did not cease to entertain me. It was just that simple it seemed, that nature provided the stimulus to take me outside of myself long enough to look at my life from a different direction. As the flight of a flock of birds shifts and change direction, so too does life. Typically, the clarions of spring, I wondered each day why this flock of red-winged blackbirds had not made their way south yet. They were still hanging on to the river’s edge, out of season, as if they might risk wintering in the cold New England winter.
And then, one day they were gone. I walked the path I always took, I marveled in the silence as I passed by the large stand of Phragmites usually infested with Red-winged Blackbirds. I stopped and listened for their chatter and trill. I heard only silence. The cold winters of winter had finally sent them south, I thought to myself. Soon the spring would come again and those clarions of spring, the Red-winged Blackbirds, would return. I would wait, as I do in all aspects of my life, for change to come.
From my Nature Writing Journal…
As I gazed out from my desk at the vista before me, I could see that just across the road to the waters of Merrimack river where I live. The sky was striped with soft pink and slate blue stripes. A flock of Canada Geese was flying just above the tree line. They were heading west with the sun announcing their presence with their loud call that sounded somewhat like an old car horn… “honk, honk, honk.”
Even as the sun was setting and geese were flying overhead, their call trumpeted through the still. Soon it would be dusk. The colors of the sky transmuted to darker hues that transfixed me. I sat on my porch bench and watched the sky dark until the blue hour had settled in. Another flock of geese could be heard off in the distance, or perhaps it was the same flock, flying back my way.
What message were they conveying to each other, I wondered. What message were they conveying to me? Stop, sit, and listen. Be in the still. Soak in the moments when there is nothing but sheer silence surrounding your presence. In that silence is where you find the answers to your deepest questions. In that silence is where you find peace. In that silence, is where inspiration soars like the geese winding their way along the river.
Today, I re-mind myself that I am the true source of my happiness. I choose to be happy and make joy my way of life. I wake each day with the promise of a sunshine even if the skies are gray. I have the power to make myself see beauty in the differences in the world and let those differences fill me with joy. I understand that I have the power of intent working for me this day and each day forward. I am the true source of my happiness. Intent makes manifest. And so it is…
“I am abundant, I have a rich and bountiful life filled with much love. I am blessed with the knowledge that my life is filled with friends and family who love me and whom I love in return. I thank the Spirit that has led each and every one of you to me, and me to you. My life is rich… I am abundant, I have a rich and bountiful life filled with much love.”
Photo: Rufous-sided Towhee