Mourning Dove

I am up and out at 8am on my deck again, listening and watching. I hear what must be a mourning dove cooing. A sound so gentle emitting from the trees, underneath the squawking of jays, the caw of crows, the joyous singing of the red-winged blackbirds. Two ducks come out of the cattails, dark in the shadows of the morning light, and head for the edge of the pond where I can longer see them. Are they nesting there? Is this their time to nest? So much is going on outside. So much to observe and contemplate. What are the wrens singing about? Are they telling each other something important, are they broadcasting sheer happiness? What happened to the wood duck that was there the other day? Do mallards and wood ducks get along?

Is there a way I can watch and listen to nature that will guide me during these uncertain times? Even though I live in the country, I can get caught in distraction and restlessness.

This coronavirus hovering about can lead me to feel anxious and fenced in, sometimes overwhelmed. Again and again, nature encourages me to live in the moment. It also awakens me to a childlike curiosity that feeds my spirit.

My meditation group, now no longer able to gather physically, is still sitting at the same time, once a week. This week, we are invited to envision a better future. What is coronavirus teaching us? How well are we listening? What needs to change, within and without? There’s no doubt that, by sequestering ourselves, we bring more peace to the planet. The air over large cities all over the world is clearing up. Animals are coming out of hiding, understanding we humans are pulling back, taking a break.

Coronavirus is forcing us to look within and ask questions. Are we living a life we can be proud of? Are we listening to Mother Nature and what she is telling us? Can we help others who are suffering more than us? Can we befriend our neighbors at this time, even the ones who differ greatly from us? Can we create a warmer, cooperative, more functional society? A society that is all-inclusive, or are our differences too fundamental? Is it too late to change?

After I ponder these questions, I come back to the sound of the mourning dove’s soft cooing, as other birds carry on, fluttering about and hopping from tree to tree. Her voice is consistent and calm beneath the chaos and activity, her feathers, I imagine, soft and unruffled.

 

After Reading Peterson’s Guide by Linda Pastan

I used to call them

Morning Doves, those birds

with breasts the rosy color

of dawn who coo us awake

as if to say love . . .

love . . . in the morning.

 

But when the book said

Mourning Doves instead

I noticed their ash-gray feathers,

like shadows

on the underside

of love.

 

When the Dark Angel comes

let him fold us in wings

as soft as these birds’,

though the speckled egg

hidden deep in his nest

is death.

Nature’s Presence

This morning, early, I step out on the back deck with a cup of tea and binoculars. Simon greets me with a soft “meow”. I sit down on the planks cross legged and he pads over to me and curls up in my lap and begins to purr. We both look out at the view and listen to the birds, his ears greatly attuned to nuances of sound, move this way and that.

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Ironically, since “shelter in place”, I’ve been spending more time outdoors than usual. It’s been in the upper 60s and lower 70s lately and spring here is gorgeous. There is so much news about COVID-19 that can lead to anxiety for me, but when I go outside onto the deck and listen and watch, I calm down, I heal. I open myself up to the present moment and my worries begin to slough off.

Red-winged blackbirds flash among the cattails, RedwingBlkbirdsinging out. A duck calls from across the pond. Another glides across the water silently.              The hills, further out, show patches of green meadow. Clouds move momentarily across the sun.

We don’t know how COVID-19 will affect us ultimately in our communities, our state, our country, the world. We don’t know how long it will linger. But, we do know this present moment, which is all we have, and lately, it’s nature that reminds me of this, and for that I am so grateful.

 

Mornings at Blackwater by Mary Oliver

“For years, every morning, I drank

from Blackwater Pond.

It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,

the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me

from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is

that the past is the past,

and the present is what your life is,

and you are capable

of choosing what that will be,

darling citizen.

So come to the pond,

or the river of your imagination,

or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.

And live

your life.”

 

Copyright:                                                                                                                                        Oliver, Mary. (2017). Devotions: The selected poems of Mary Oliver. New York: Penguin Press.

“The Peace of Wild Things”

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day – blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

                                                   ~ Wendell Berry

 

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