Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
The very act of asking the questions implies an uncertainty. The baby discovers its fingers, its toes, the mother’s breast, her eyes, a rattle. Feels wet, cold, warm, safe. One baby grows to accept these strange things, these variations in physical comfort, and another baby questions. When does the baby begin to question?
I am still the baby, still fascinated by each new discovery in the world around me, still full of questions about their origin, my origin. The Indigo Girls sing, “The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” I sing along, though the picture I have in my mind when I come to that line is that of a woman (is it sometimes me?) who responds to the question, “How are you doing?” through clenched teeth: “I’m FINE.”
That simple three-degree shift.
G.K. came up a bit ago with the binoculars and told me to look out at Cassady in the yard. She had a baby robin, alive and unhurt (must have fallen out of the nest) between her paws, dancing around it, trying to entice it to play. Two adult robins were trying to distract her without success. I didn't know what to do. Finally, I put my shoes on and opened the door—only to have her grab the bird and take off towards the willow tree. She probably thought I came to take the bird from her (and she'd be right). I let her go. I don't feel good about it, but I just let her go. George comforted me, told me, "It's nature. You couldn't have gotten it back to the nest, anyway." And he's right. To rescue the baby bird may have eased my conscience for the moment, but in another way, it's a sort of denial of the cycle of nature. Turn, turn, turn.
My prayers are often wordless. My concept of a Higher Power shifts as my consciousness shifts. There are times when I need an anthropomorphic god, a parent figure, though I do shy away from using pronouns. Occasionally, I’ll slip into the masculine pronoun, primarily out of habit. The masculine is all that’s used in my Big Book and I grew up in the Christian church, so the idea of a Heavenly Father is easy, though not always comfortable. The feminine pronoun makes sense—a Mother that’s given birth to All. But mostly, I think in dualities, and with the exception of some microscopic organisms and, I think, some worms, that which has a heartbeat needs both mother and father to join together in its creation. I don’t like It, as “It” is not specific, though…how can I be specific about something beyond the reaches of my human comprehension? I can’t be specific on the process of getting gas from the pump into the tank of my car, but I still swipe my card and manage to get the needle to read “full” again.
My prayers are often wordless because, most of the time, I’m trying merely to align myself with something. I really don’t see accidents in the world, so I assume that I’m not one, that I have a Purpose, and also that I have a will that can stomp its feet and refuse to fulfill that Purpose. Aligning myself is Harmony, vibrating at just the right frequency meant for me, and when I come upon others vibrating at their proper frequency, cool stuff happens. I follow signs. I find the right human words. I sense peace that may or may not be reflected in the world around me.
So, wordless prayer can be as simple as taking a full cup of coffee to the porch, sitting down in my rocking chair, and allowing myself to breathe for a while. Meditation follows. I open myself to that which is before me, inside me, and around me. At times, I’m inspired to get up and move, and at other times, company comes to call, and I’m encouraged to sit, to be still.
A couple of summers ago, my cats caught and killed a cardinal in my front yard. I was devastated. I put out seed for the birds, luring them in so that I could enjoy them, and my cats, my pets, killed one of them. Only months before, I’d given up meat in protest that everything lives to eat or be eaten, and here I was, providing the bait and the instrument of death. I wrote an essay about wanting to put bells around my cats’ necks. In the end, I didn’t do it. The reasons were several. First of all, my cats aren’t that great when it comes to hunting birds. I feed them too well and their predatory nature is dulled, I think, because of it. Secondly, just because I have altered my place in the food chain doesn’t mean that I should dictate the place of others under my influence. There’s also the fact that I live surrounded by both farmlands and woodlands, and if my cats want to wander and hunt, they don’t need me to lure in their prey. Maybe bells would make them less efficient, but as I said, they don’t do so hot without the bells anyway. That sounds like a cop-out, but…
There were more reasons, but I don’t remember them anymore. The point is, I only ever saw my domesticated cats as having the potential to harm those other creatures in the wild. My dog? This harmless Border collie? I really don’t think Cassady meant to harm the bird. She tries herding them all the time, which is hilarious to watch. She will watch a bird and follow, jumping all the way, when it takes flight. She’ll follow it from the evergreens in the front yard to the fruit trees in the back yard. Until a couple of days ago, she’d never caught one. And once she had it, just like her plastic Folgers can that she chases around the yard, catching it on the tip of her nose and flipping it up in the air, she wouldn’t let anyone take her toy.
I can watch a news report about lives lost in a hurricane or a tornado and accept that some things just happen. I feel badly, and I say a prayer for the families and friends left behind to grieve. I pray that if energy continues to exist once a living thing dies that the energy gets a better break next time around. I don’t blame it on God. I believe somehow it will become part of the Plan, that there is a Purpose in the action and in the consequences.
I’ll think about that baby robin again, and again, I’m sure, just as I thought about the cardinal of several summers ago. Maybe I’ll even come to some sort of understanding, or I’ll write a poem in its honor. To everything, there is a season.
Through step eleven, I get the privilege of remaining in a childlike state of wonder and, some would say, childlike faith. I don’t have to be jaded and cynical anymore because I don’t have to insist that I know the truth—though I’ve discovered many truths. One of those truths is that there isn’t—or needn’t be—any waste in the human experience. I pray only for God’s will for me and the power to carry it out, and sometimes, I’m totally clueless when I take a look at what’s before me. I can spend a whole lot of energy fighting against it, throwing tantrums, or I can use that power—that god-given power—to put one foot in front of the other. It’s much easier to accept God’s will when the result of the action is “success,” and not always so easy to accept when the result is not so easily categorized. Harder still when I slap a “failure” label on it. Wasted? No. If, down the road, the reason doesn’t become clear, then I have a lesson, something more for the experience bag.
Up next: “Bad isn’t always bad.”
Peace & Love,