When life throws a new experience at me it ushers in a new perspective. Every moment of surprise reorders my world. All of a sudden everything takes on a completely new look, a new hue, a new order, a new pattern that awakens in me a whole new understanding. Just when I thought I knew the world around me I make a discovery, or witness a happening, that forever alters my perception of life.
I enjoy observing the world around me. I take pride in knowing the growing patterns of the plants that appear every spring, the movements and behaviors of the birds and animals that frequent the land where I live, and in being familiar with the ocean soundscape as waves build and retreat with every passing storm. All of these things help me feel a part of a place.
But then something happens to alter my perception.
Taking A Trip Through Wonderland
A Crow Story
One morning last year I witnessed something extraordinary. We have a family of crows that frequent our yard, and I, up until that moment, would observe their comings and goings, alerted to their presence every time I'd hear their 'caw caw'. There are 6 that stick together and 4 appear to be siblings. What unfolded before my eyes completely changed my understanding of crows and gave me a peek into their personalities.
Outside my window, up on a small hill sits a round lichen-covered stone surrounded by grass about 15 inches in diameter and 15 inches high. My eye is always drawn to it because of its solitary position. I've often wondered whether energetically it anchors a power point. On that magical morning perched on this small stone were 4 crows, wings flapping to stay balanced, appearing to tease one another with jabs of their beaks. This went on for a few timeless, unbelievable moments. It was amazing to me to see them all perched so close together on this small rock, but then one of the crows pushed another off the rock and it landed on its back, its feet in the air trying to protect itself from the other. Through it all they were making a ruckus with their caw cawing. The 'parents' were foraging in the grass nearby seemingly oblivious to it all, while these 4 'youngsters' were huddled on the stone squabbling amongst themselves.
Whether that stone anchors a power point or not, it anchors that delightful memory for me, and my understanding of crows has forever changed.
The Goldfinch and the Icicle
We all need water. It's one of the essential ingredients for survival. Many of us can simply turn on the tap and it pours forth, while many others must trek miles to fetch it in buckets. But, what do the birds do? Seek out a melting icicle of course!
One sunny morning in early spring I was sitting at my kitchen table by the window. From this spot I can look out over my deck across the treetops to the water sparkling down below in the harbor. Being a bird-lover I have hung up a hummingbird feeder and feeders for both thistle seed and mixed seed. I can easily see the birds feeding from where I sit inside. Chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, and hummingbirds are regular visitors. That morning while sitting at the table, I witnessed a goldfinch fly over and perch sideways on a small icicle about 5 inches long that was hanging from the gutter just outside the window where I sat. It very quickly landed, reached down to take a drink from the droplet that had formed at the bottom of the icicle, and flew away leaving the icicle unharmed. I sat amazed, transfixed by the blessing that had just occurred.
This was one of those miraculous moments that if I hadn't been sitting there quietly watching I would have missed it. A true case of being in the right place at the right time.
The Crow and the Squirrel
This story involves one of the crows from the family mentioned above. One sunny afternoon last week I noticed our resident family of crows foraging for food in the large expanse of grass in our side yard. Interspersed amongst them were some gray squirrels burrowing their noses in the ground looking for acorns and other tasty morsels. As I gazed out the window enjoying the scene, I noticed one of the crows teasing one of the squirrels. It was sneaking around from behind trying to grab the squirrel's tail in its beak. The squirrel didn't appear threatened by this behavior at all and simply moved a little further away each time in an attempt to deter the pesky crow. The crow wasn't put off by this in the least. It continued to follow the squirrel, trying again and again like an impish younger brother. I was in disbelief. Time stood still. After the third try the crow grabbed the squirrel's tail and held on for a few seconds after which the squirrel simply gave its tail a quick little twitch, releasing it from the crow's beak, and went back to grubbing. I couldn't believe my eyes. What just happened!!? Thoughts danced around in my head as I tried to make sense of what I had just witnessed.
The Ant and the Rose Petal
It was a warm, sunny morning in June in the southwest of England. I was on pilgrimage and taking time for myself in the Chalice Well Gardens. The garden was at its peak with its flowers in full bloom. Not many people were around and I was enjoying the beauty of the flowers and drinking in the peace and sacredness of the place. In the center of the gardens the path passes a tall group of pink rose bushes. They reach 8-9 feet in places, their magenta and dusty pink blossoms reaching up to the light. As I walked by that morning I noticed a little earthen path strewn with rose petals leading back about 10 feet into a hidden enclosure surrounded by rose bushes. Deep in the center sat a chair, woven of saplings that you knew had been there for years. I couldn't resist. Feeling the desire to be in a secret hidden enclosure surrounded by roses, I stepped off the main path, dipped down and in, and followed the rose petals deep into the center.
Taking a seat in the chair, I let myself become quiet and opened my senses. No one knew I was there. Those passing by were oblivious to my presence. Quietly I sat steeping, taking in the beauty, the warmth, the buzz of bees, sounds of passing birds and distant voices, absorbing the pulsing vibration of green nature all around me. When I'm out in nature I like to tune my awareness to the tiny, wee, minute aspects of a place, and this moment was no exception. As I sat quietly my gaze fell to the pink rose petals at my feet. I leaned over, looked closely and saw a tiny ant crawling over a petal. It was moving from deep down in the hollow of the petal up along its soft arching curve. I watched as the ant moved with purpose, intent on some distant destination unknown to me. Then, in the blink of an eye, it lost it's footing and rolled back down into the hollow. This was amazing to me. The ant didn't fall, it rolled. A very different experience. I've witnessed insects crawling up something and then losing their grip and falling down, but this ant rolled on its side back down to the bottom. I imagined it shaking off the experience as I witnessed it returning to the climb, intent on its destination.
Each of these experiences exemplifies for me the humor, joy and delight that the world holds in every moment. They changed my perception in profound ways. My world opened up and expanded to embrace the miraculous. There is an abundance of pure wonder in this world and miracles abound when we take the time to really be present in every unfolding moment of our lives. We all have experiences like these. What are yours?