There are many things that have kept me from writing in this space over the last days. There is the different rhythm that is summer. That rhythm that catches you up from one place and deposits you in a completely different landscape, both literal or imagined. There are the many activities that come with summer that joyfully fit into a day, acts that cannot be done at any other time……like picking strawberries for instance or staring at the garden growing right before your eyes. Then there is also the fact that I have been working on a book which will be published soon and I have spent the writing time I have making edits, rereading sentences that formed in me months, even years ago, to see if they still fit and are spelled correctly. More on that as the days unfold.
But last week I had an encounter that bears telling. It was a unique experience that happened on what was an ordinary morning. Heading out as I so often do to walk a bit before beginning my work day, I made my way down our street my mind full of the cobwebs of dreams and sleep that still hung on. I was just a couple blocks away from home and had not yet spoken to a person. My voice was still in its nighttime phase, groggy, unpracticed. Coming toward me on the sidewalk a woman and her dog were moving with purpose. My plan was to move past her and continue on my way. But she clearly had other intentions. “Excuse me. There is an animal down here. On the ground. I don’t know what it is but I think it must be dying. At least hurt. What should I do?”
Yikes! I was awake now. We walked together to the edge of the next block. I had no idea what I would find but also knew that I am not an expert in any way when it comes to dying animals. We came upon a small, gray, body nestled among green grass on the boulevard. Was it a squirrel? A rabbit? A mole? A vole? I don’t know. But it was definitely struggling and was abandoned. We discussed what it might be as the dog remained, I thought, quite well behaved about this small food possibility. I looked overhead to see if there was a squirrel nest in the tree nearby but saw nothing. We both bent down now, closer, to see if we could see its breathing. I didn’t see movement but my new companion did. As she pointed I then saw a tiny, ever so minute movement of its gray, fury belly. We, the human ones, stood watch over what were probably this mysterious animal’s last breaths.
After agreeing that we could really do nothing, that taking it to a veterinarian would probably have us looking silly, we looked at one another and made our way on into our respective days. But not before one last look of hopeful blessing. As I walked on I wondered at what had just happened. It seemed that I had been witness to a compassionate heart and invited into its presence. As two beings who walk upright, who have power and choices of some of the ways our lives unfold, we had chosen to stand over an unnameable creature and watch its passing. We could do nothing. We could not change the outcome but we could offer the kindness of our hearts. It seemed a blessing all around.
Later on that same walk, I noticed a flock of pigeons circling a house. There must have been 20 or 30 of them. They took a circle round and as they did so, a few would peel off and head off leaving the circle smaller and smaller. I stopped walking and allowed this action, this ritual I could not understand to swoop over me. I could not only hear the flapping of wings but I also could nearly feel the energy they were sending out into the Universe, over me.I stood there until the final circling and the last bird made its way to wherever it was going.
One walk. Two encounters with animals. One,a moment of life letting go. Another, a moment of life taking flight. Both a reminder to stay awake to the rhythms of these summer days that can wake us up from sleep.