A Brown-headed Cowbird, A Mary Oliver Poem & My Native Flute: Tribute to Spring
Often it happens this way, as we are busy with activities or reading or musing about something rather trivial.
An unfamiliar sound instantly captures our attention; and with a sharp and sudden intake of breath, some arresting flash of wonderment illuminates our world, and in that twinkling our lives and everything we think we know is indelibly altered.
The first time his seductive, unfamiliar song reached me, it was so very different from all the others I’d been enjoying, that I froze.
It was unlike anything I’d heard since Spring began awakening the world; since the openings, spillings, usherings in, and summoning of all manner of new life and sound and activity.
All around me is birth and re-birth and the quick or lumbering affirmations of such emerging industry; the diligent and wondrous work, the bursting forth of the world’s new garments, and the terrible and magnificent strivings of predator and prey.
I was on high alert; intrigued, curious, puzzled. Who was this magnificent singer, and to what could I compare this music?
Reminiscent of the gentle frolicking of a harp, the melodious voice of water as it follows a low and gentle path, such as a bubbling brook; the rolling fluidity of this song was as inviting as any I’ve heard.
Following the direction of the song then locating the singer, and finally confirming my guess about the identity of this, my first sighting: he is a beautiful Brown-headed Cowbird.
The wonder and majesty of that moment felt like the time I was working out on my elliptical trainer, muscles being exerted, my lungs doing their magnificent alchemy with breath and blood, eyes focused on a book of poems by a masterful literary artist.
Savoring Mary Oliver’s brilliantly imaged wisdom and perceptions, all my senses were engaged, thrilling to my work and her words. Then my eyes fell upon a line which I received exactly as one receives the cup and drinks the wine.
Speaking of the bees in June who dive into the flowering tree, Oliver observes, “They are crazy with gratitude. They are working like farmers. They are as happy as saints.” She tells how the spent flowers wilt; and of how each year she gathers and eats handfuls of the sweet fallen blossoms.
Then Oliver offers her summation, pronounces her benediction on the whole of life’s luscious, transitory business.
“So it is
if the heart has devoted itself to love, there is not a single inch of emptiness. Gladness gleams all the way to the grave.”
Surely this is precisely how it is meant to be; this is exactly why it is that when we are at our happiest we are also the least afraid of that ultimate transformation. It is just so, when we are loving life more than ever before that we can see all that awaits beyond it. That next Spring.
The observer changes the observed. We are light beings in earthen vessels, so perhaps the soil of our lives is stardust. We are called to share our light, which merely means we are to give something of ourselves to the world while we are here.
We ought not ever settle for less when we have obviously been summoned to so much more.
All I can think to do in response is add more water from the well to the tub for the birds, give them more delectable seed and take my flute outside.
Breath through wood, a simple offering; which the warm, gentle wind accepts and carries. A few notes in grateful celebration for the birds' beautiful songs and the radiant, teeming gift of Spring which they embody.
Discover or rekindle your appreciation of Oliver. Come home to your deepest self.
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