The Self

I am a self, a thinking, feeling, acting being enclosed in a mystery I can
neither fully comprehend nor control.

My mind registers every current in the cosmic sea. That old devil moon
moves the tides in my blood. Distant vibratory events ripple through the
plasma of my mind. Just as the DNA in any cell of my body encodes all the
information necessary to reproduce my entire body, so my mind contains in
germ the wisdom of the cosmos. I am a microcosm of the macrocosm. I am a
gateway to the world, a nexus through which all lines pass. Deep within and
far beyond meet in the depth of my spirit. (Continues)


Meditation on a Jay

I sit in silent meditation and try to quiet my spirit, but some nameless
anxiety eats away at my small store of contentment and my mind grows weary
from far too many ideas running in circles. In desperation, I grab a
handful of peanuts in the shell and retreat to the front steps of my
studio. The liturgy of crushing the shell between my fingers, liberating
and savoring the nut, rescues me from endless thought peanut by peanut.  No
sooner do I throw the accumulated shells onto the lawn than a Scrub Jay
appears and begins to sort through the detritus to see if I have overlooked
nuts that might be gleaned.  Wanting to reward his hope, I throw a plump
peanut in his direction but my movement is too rapid and he retreats to a
safe distance, perches on the wall and studies me. He makes several brief
forays in the direction of the prize, but each time he decides I am a
threat and flies to a low branch on the Chinese Tallow Tree and takes stock
of the situation. He emits a couple of soft shrieks that I interpret as
signs of frustration but, evidently, they signal the need for
reinforcements because several minutes later two more Scrub Jays and a pair
of Stellar Jays —dark blue crests, gray upper, blue rump and
belly—appear out of nowhere. The result is a kind of wild Dionysian dance
in which there is much jumping about as both species of Jays strut around
showing great attitude and superior self-esteem.

I throw out several more peanuts each one a foot closer to where I am
sitting. The more reticent Stellar Jays fly near to the most distant nuts
and look in all directions before darting in and seizing them. The bolder
Scrub Jays edge ever nearer to me. It occurs to me that Master Jay has
become my Zen teacher and has instructed me to remain motionless, breath
softly and wait. My mind slows, the flow of ideas ebbs and I sink into a
timeless state in which the birds and I are alone in a cocoon of silence.
The quieter I grow the closer the Jays come. I trust that, in time, if I
become more practiced in the great art of silence, they will lose their
reticence and eat from my open hand.


Joy To the World

This morning I notice a small bird trapped in my screen porch. My Birds of
North America identifies it as a female Berwick’s Wren “ distinguished from
other wrens by its eye stripe, white under parts and unstreaked brown
back.”  A jewel in dawn’s early light!

She flies back and forth, back and forth, like a prisoner pacing a cell,
looking for an escape route and becomes frantic as I approach. Before I can
open the outer door for her to escape I notice that her mate, outside the
screen porch is flying back and forth in an identical pattern. For a few
minutes I watch the aerial ballet a deux to make certain that the stunning
display of compassion I am witnessing is intentional. Sure enough, the pair
continues to fly with a degree of co-ordination that would put the Blue
Angels to shame.

When I open the door she flies out and is joined by her mate and their
dance erupts into a series wild gyrations,
ascending to an apex and swooping low to the ground. Only the most
doctrinaire cynic could possibly refuse to be amazed and graced by the
appearance of such angels of joy.  In just such minor epiphanies we are
surprised  to find  evidence of benevolence at the heart of the
commonwealth of sentient beings apart from humankind.