Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Steady Hand

This week while traveling on a Southern California freeway I witnessed a beautiful, heroic, and magical thing.

Like so many things in life, it started out as a bad thing and became a lesson in how wonderful people can be.

There is a section of the 805 freeway under construction. For months now we have seen the workers moving earth, putting in girders, and shifting equipment all within feet of us as we motor by at speeds around 70 mph when the road is open.

The other morning a storm was moving in. The rain had not yet reached the shore, but the wind had and an uneasy energy swept over the land.  I even remarked on it on Facebook before I got on the road.

A car with a family of five heading north on that section of the 805 was sideswiped by another car swerving to avoid a separate accident. It was about 6:30, the sun was just properly up, and the construction workers were only barely getting underway with their labors. The struck car became airborne and hung up on the concrete divide separating the road from the construction pit. Severely mangled, the car hung there precariously.

At great peril to themselves the construction workers raced to the car. They pulled a child out. They maneuvered one of their trucks with an extension under the car to prevent it from falling in to the pit. They worked to get the other people out of the car, and all this before the emergency teams had time to get there.

This caused quite the stir, as you can imagine, and traffic backed up in both directions. I came on it just as the ambulances and fire trucks were getting there. It was both horrifying and stunning: that truck reaching up to steady the car. I think everyone within sight was holding their breath. For a long time.

I sent up prayers of thanksgiving and deliverance for the people in the car, and for the workers supporting them. The people were all taken to hospital. Constabulary got the car up and over and on to a flatbed truck. Four of the five people lived. The grandmother passed later that day.

Life does this sometimes. Sometimes we get hit out of nowhere and get flipped in the air and seem to hang in the balance and we are not sure whether we will fall and die, or be rescued, or figure it out somehow. Certainly in these interesting times this happens a lot.

Yet help can come from the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. You might be surprised who reaches out to steady you when you have a wobble. Or grabs you when you get flung in the air and are hanging upside down by only a prayer.

This accident happened as the workers were gathering, finishing their coffee, and starting up their equipment. It happened close enough for them to have the ability to see it happen and the path to rapidly get there. And help they didn’t hesitate. They didn’t worry about their construction deadlines. They abandoned their plans because of a new imperative.  Wow.

I don’t think we should worry. Help is all around. The stranger who passes you by on the street could be the hero who saves you. Or you for them.

I think we are in this together. I think we are learning that. I think that as the economy tears away our materialism and out of control consumption we are learning what is real.

I salute the construction workers every time I drive by them now. I call down radiant love to bless them, these unsung heroes of the roadway.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Commute of the Crows

Since my household move I have a long commute to work. About an hour going; an hour or more coming home again. Hey, it’s the economy. Over the months I’ve fallen in to a nomadic routine, and have come to appreciate the time I get to myself zipping down the freeway and back again. I’ve come to appreciate that my trip has a rhythm of its own, and this appreciation instructs me to see other rhythms that play out near by.

One of my favorites is The Commute of the Crows.

Each morning as I head out at dawn and leap on the freeway I see a huge murder of crows also taking flight for the day. They rise in masses of at least several hundred and circle as they gather their bearings and then split off in to squadrons of smaller numbers. Each squadron takes off in its own direction. So as we car-bound humans wait in line at the meter to get down the ramp and on the thoroughfare, so the crows circle and establish their pecking order, organize, align, and head out in all directions.

I think the birds gather some sort of altitude advantage from the warmer air over the interstate. In some odd way the exhaust from thousands of cars gives them that boost they crave. At least I can’t think of any other reason they’d always be there, rising up over the road, and circling, circling, ranking, ordering, and then pulling off in their many separate groups for a day of hunting and whatever it is that crows do. I’ve taken to calling Good Morning to them and wishing them well.

Returning home at dusk I witness the reverse happen. I see the crows again, only now massing together and coalescing. They come in from all directions to the same space at the same place on the highway and swirl together and head off again. They rise and fall and gain in number and then traject to wherever they spend their evenings and sleep.

What is this? Is it some great crow party? Do they mass for society? For protection? For warmth? Do they have a culture? Do they tell stories of what they did all day; the adventures they had and the sights they saw? Do they remark on the cars on the road? Do they notice us at all? The gridlock, the speeders, the crashes, the arrogance, the close calls?

As I commute to and from my day, so do they. As I rise each morning, shamble out the door and get to work with thousands of my fellow humans , several thousand crows get about their day and apparently conclude and come home the same time I do. What an odd parallel. Yet their commute is more dimensional than mine. I inch forward in a straight line with glazed over weary workers in line with me. They rise and fall and move in all directions: high, low, side to side. They have energy and agility. We hunch over our steering wheels and listen to subscription radio.

I call Good Evening to them at dusk and wonder whether any of my fellow travelers notice them. How could they not? They are beautiful. My fellow commuters in the sky. I’m in good company.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cricket Intentions

Over the past month and a half I’ve been moving my household and my office. Didn’t intend for it to fall that way, but Life does move quickly sometimes. I’ve been very preoccupied. Haven’t been writing much, which is very unlike me. A great many things have changed. I’m exhausted but it’s all working out and my life is starting to feel normal again. A little bit anyway.

The other day though, I witnessed the most amazing change in another being’s life, and so I want to write about it now.

I purchased a pot of greens and a pot of catnip at the local pet supply store, and brought them to my new home for the cats. These pots and all the routine groceries were set down by the front door while I dealt with putting chilled items away. Out of the corner of my eye I spied my younger cat intently fixed on trying to catch something in the pile of groceries. Oh dear, I wondered. What did I bring in with me?

A cricket was barely eluding my cat’s pounce. It was only a matter of time before cat would triumph so I intervened and inverted a glass jar over the cricket and took him out to the patio to release him, from whence he rapidly hopped over to the edge of the woods and away.

My cat glared at me and walked away to start munching on the catnip. Then it struck me. What that cricket had achieved.

Only a few hours before he was sitting in a pet supply store, seemingly doomed to be sold to someone with a large hungry pet reptile. They don’t call them Feeder Crickets for nothing.

But no. That isn’t what happened. This cricket managed to hop out of the enclosure. Or maybe he fell out of a bag on the way to the check out. Point being, he made it from the Feeder Cricket Container all the way to the Catnip display. He sat in a catnip plant. Then I brought the catnip plant home. He hopped off. He was then menaced by a fierce predator but once again Deus Ex Machina swooped in and poof! He’s outside in nature, living his life as a free cricket.

What an incredible series of events! Was it random? Did the cricket set up an intention to get to the wild somehow? I’m put in mind of the Chilean Miners (all respect; I’m not comparing them to crickets directly!) and how the one miner dreamt of running in a marathon and then did it.

However it happened it was great. It reminded me to not worry so much about how things are going to get accomplished. It reminded me that the important thing, from an energy standpoint, is to set the intention. “I will be free and in the wild once more; I am transcending the Feeder Cricket Container”. Or something. I do not know how crickets think.

I think the magical lesson in this little drama I watched unfold is to set our intentions, and then relax, stay alert, and when you see the time is right to act, well then act. And when you see the time is right to perch in the catnip, well then perch in the catnip. And if a large predator menaces you, well you never know what may swoop in and in a twinkling of an eye, set you free.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Raven Gifts

Ah my Darlings I’ve been so busy that I let the blog slip a bit. My apologies. Going to try and keep on task now and continue to pen some thoughts and fling them in your general direction (thanks, Monty Python!).

This morning I’m seated at my desk in the window, where I’ve been cranking out legal papers nonstop for a few days. I’ve also gotten in the habit of putting bread out for the ravens, who come land just outside. They are huge, and the cats crouch down and get so excited when they arrive!

The giant birds flap in and land on a wrought iron railing, survey the bread, and then hop down and get what they want. I regard them as I tap on the keyboard here, and my indoor cats turn themselves inside out and cackle at them. The ravens are bigger than the cats! I am put in mind of Antonio Banderas in his cinematic portrayal of Armand, the great vampire from long ago. Large, powerful, wise, and wonderful.

This morning my ravens gave me this blog post.

A young one arrived and lit on the railing. He saw the bread and I could tell he wanted it. He looked at the bread. He looked around. He saw me in the window. He hopped up and down the railing. He turned around. He looked at the bread. He dithered. He wanted the bread, but something was holding him back. He wasn’t sure it was safe. He wanted assurances. Hop, regard, turn, hop, regard, incline, hop… fly off. Return, hop, regard… this went on and on.

I mentally told him: it’s ok ! You can take the bread! It’s my gift to you! And I thought of how this is so like the gifts we are given here on Earth. Some people just come take the gifts and others are afraid and consider the details so much that they don’t take the gifts.

Somewhere between foolhardy and frozen we have to know when to act and take the offerings. I felt bad for this young raven, and immediately thought of the times I have hesitated too long and lost the gift proffered me. But then there were other times I leapt in without thinking and THAT was the wrong thing to do too. So I felt for this young raven and his dilemma.

He flew off. And I thought Oh! You didn’t take the gift.

And then it hit me. The lesson. The gift was still there. The bread remained. It didn’t go anywhere. He could come back when he was ready. Heaven doesn’t dangle gifts and then swipe them away. (I would have put out more bread had others taken it). The gifts are there for us when we are ready to take them! They are there just for us. And our guides are patient, they are! They will make sure the bread is there for us.

And I smiled and returned to typing, thanking my guides for the lesson.

Then the young raven returned with a great raucous cry. He had a friend. Two ravens now graced my railing. And they hopped down and took the bread and flew off. But not before the young one paused with bread in his mouth and looked at me directly as I sat in the window.

And I fancied that young raven winked at me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Raven Wind

Sat and watched a raven fly against the wind of the outgoing storm front. He made small steady progress. "How do you do it?" I asked. "I find the spaces between the winds" he replied.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sea Witch

Today I’m a right proper sea witch. Down to the water go I, wild of hair, entangled in kelp, and dripping with salt. I’m searching for moonstones cast up by the incoming tide, and instead find jaspers and shells, and no moonstones until I stop looking for them and then they come rolling in. Isn’t that just the way of life?

The pelicans fly overhead in great flocks. They proceed both north and south so I know they are not in migration, but scope for schools of fish to eat. I spread my arms wide as they fly over. I am not the only human doing this. It is a good beach, this one. No tourists. Just lone walkers and the flirts of surfers.

So, I marvel at the moonstones rolling in at the last few moments of my walk and I laugh. For the moonstones are like life. You don’t know where they are going to be or when they are going to roll in, but you know that it’s your job to go down to the beach and look. And they’ll find you. The right ones. The ones meant for you. I pause at the base of the cliffs and near a spray of ice plant flowers to pen these words.

Gulls stand on rocks as the water comes in providing them with their supper. As with the moonstones, they don’t know exactly what is coming to them, but they know that it will, and they wait on the rocks.

So what is the use of worry?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Yesterday a sparrow flew into a window inside one of the places I work. I didn’t see this accident; this confusion of egress. A colleague did, and said she just flew into the window frantically and fell to the floor.

Against all the protests of No! Don’t Touch Her! I picked her up. There is nothing to fear in nature such as her. What was she going to do? Peck me? That would be a minor injury. She was motionless, and made no effort to escape my intrusion. Her eyes were bright. She was warm, and a soft thrill met the finger I placed on her chest. She was paralyzed and alive. My heart bled.

I took her back to my office and regarded her closely. Her eyes remained bright and her body remained warm. At first I thought there was nothing I could do. And then I realized that I could be with her while she passed. No one should be alone in either birth or death. That was what I could do for her. I could send her love.

Fortunately I had set aside a few hours to work at my desk on some projects, so I could easily accommodate this small creature in her dying hours. If I held my hands in a slightly convex Namaste/Prayer position, she completely fit. I offered her Reiki twice over the next hour and a half and twice she took it. I prayed for her safe journey, whether it be to recovery or to leave. She remained warm and motionless. Her eyes continued bright. The chest thrill began to fade ever so slightly. Any thought I had that she was merely stunned and would make a theatrical recovery to suddenly rouse and fly away left me.

I held her in the crook of my arm, and checked on her between drafting pages on the computer. Another hour went by. Finally I held her in my hands and felt her pass. The energy left her and the light in her eyes extinguished. Slowly she cooled, and then her nits and fleas left her. It was at that exodus of parasites that I knew it was time to wrap her body; she had gone and flown to the light.

At the end of my workday I regarded this slight corpse that was next to my purse. I took her on my evening walk and adjusted my route to take me to a very happy park that is out of the way and known to only a few people. I left the path and made my way to an out of the way copse of trees. I unwrapped her and laid her to rest nestled in some sweet grass under a pile of dry leaves. It would have been wrong to bury her; that is not the way of birds. There she can gently return to the earth undisturbed.

At home later I felt a gentle release in my heart, and I let the tears flow. I cried for the honor of having been with her at her passing; at being permitted to share such elegant tragedy. I wept for my own past traumas, and maybe resolved them just a little further. I cried for reasons I couldn’t even articulate. I had experienced something profound. This little sparrow had taught me so much.

Tonight I went out of my way to drive by the park and stopped. I did not get out; she did not need me poking at her resting place. I looked in her general direction, about half a mile in from where I was. It felt peaceful. I knew she was free.