A wing and a prayer

A poem & photo reflection from eight years ago that I found again today.  (Photos by Margy Dowzer.)Bird WingI think of the wing of a bird

the wing I found by the side of the road 

          of a bird now dead

the wing so intricate and beautiful

           now in decay

I imagine this–the millions of birds–

           beautiful

           coming into being, fading away

the artist painting a billion paintings

the stories wondrous, tragic

the story of that bird—alive, 

           growing feathers, flying, eating

            alive and then dead,

            and then the materials un-forming

so brief a story, so brief a life

 

I imagine The Life

creating itself into a billion forms

and then re-creating another billion forms 

          with almost infinite variation

a kaleidoscope of beauty and diversity

and different ways of being conscious of the work

and different ways of participating in creating

              making choices

Can you feel the inner creative energy in each one?

 

So now I am creating and seeing as Myke

          (and how beautiful I am

            eyes looking out at this world

            heart capable of love

             making changes, healing, choosing)

and I will dissolve and disintegrate too

and I will reform into a new being

 

The larger I Am –it sounds so static, in a way–

yet it is not static

it is creating, evolving, engaging, weaving, curious

dare I say hopeful?

(Is there a goal to which it strives?)

(Or is it playing to see what happens next?) 

(Am I?)

The stories, billions of stories

Can the stories appreciate the magic

            be full of wonder and gratitude

            enjoy the show?

 

I am that

I am the bird who grew feathers and died

          and was seen by the Myke

          and was photographed by the Margy

I want to wake up

 

Holy One,

open my body and emotions and intellect

to be united in awareness with my Larger Self

with the Creator

with the Limitless One

Help me to remember who I Am

          as the I

          as the Myke

Each being is beautiful

We are all one Being

Each story is beautiful

We are all one Story

Bird Wing closeup

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The Larger Whole

Reflected SkySpirituality is our experience of connection to the larger whole of which we are a part. I believe that each being is sacred, and we are all one family, one circle. My deepest experiences convince me this is true, even though we may forget, even despite the ways we may be estranged. Linda Hogan writes that the purpose of ceremony is to remember that all things are connected. She says:

“The participants in a ceremony say the words ‘All my relations’ before and after we pray; those words create a relationship with other people, with animals, with the land. To have health it is necessary to keep all these relations in mind.”

As we begin to build bridges across the broken places within our hearts, across the broken places between peoples, across the broken places between people and the earth, we are doing the work of mending the world. We are awakening, we are remembering, the reality in which we actually live, the unity of all. The Buddhists call it inter-being. In South Africa it is called ubuntu: we are all born to belonging, and we know ourselves in just and mutual relationship to one another. We move beyond the small self of the ego, into the larger Self some call God, or what I have called Mystery. Thomas Merton writes,

“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”

The purpose of spirituality is to remember that all things are connected and to heal the brokenness between us.

An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and day had begun.
Could it be,” asked one of the students, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?”
No,” answered the Rabbi.
Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?”
No,” answered the Rabbi.
Then what is it?” the pupils demanded.
It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”
                                                                             (Hasidic Tale)

Quotes from Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World, (New York: Norton, 1995)
Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, edited by Christine Bochen. (Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 2000)
Hasidic Tale, Quoted in Spiritual Literacy, edited by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, p. 502.