Wherever it was
I was supposed to be this morning-- whatever it was I said
I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field-- I was hurrying
through my own soul, opening its dark doors-- I was leaning out;
I was listening.
- Mary Oliver, Mockingbirds
I love the quiet hush of early mornings; it's not completely silenced, but it seems as if all the sounds are muted, soft, and just barely there. There and then gone, teasing, enticing me to listen carefully.
Stillness and silence seem intertwined, nearly inseparable. My soul needs both, and treasures the mornings that begin slowly and invite introspection. I miss it all when for whatever reason I tell myself that there's not enough time, that things need to be done.
Yesterday was one of those mornings, a bit rushed, a bit hectic, with things that "had to be done" before I took off to watch over a sick little one.
One of those "the world will end if you don't do this" things was taking out the recycling and trash. Bags in hand, I stopped short, staring a pretty amazing, awfully large black bird ambling through our back yard. His feathers glistened all sorts of purples and blues, the sunshine pulling them out of the black.
I stopped briefly, bags still in hand, to watch and enjoy him. Not a crow...I've seen some big crows, and he outdid them. A raven?
And, then I broke the silence, calling out a "Good Morning," and away he flew. Immediately, without hesitation, he flapped those large wings and took off, never looking back. The magic was gone in a heartbeat.
This morning, as I read and began to write my morning pages, he popped back into my mind.
"Time changes, the world goes on changing, but the experience of silence remains the same...the taste of silence remains the same." (Osha Deck)
The taste of silence...I love these words, and as I wrote my pages this morning, thinking about yesterday's bird, another memory peeked through...Sister Delores, my oldest son's second grade teacher.
Sister Delores loved life and loved teaching, making learning come alive. She was on the uppermost floor of the oldest part of the school, the floor that at one time had housed the students who lived at school. Huge windows looked over a tiny town, and through one window, you saw the twisted, gnarled branches of a old tree.
Beneath the window, she place a table with a log book, several bird books, and a few pairs of binoculars. Students could visit the station at various times, and they worked to identify the birds, logging them in with date, time, and other observations. By the end of the year, my son could identify any local species on sight, telling you whether the bird was male or female. No formal teaching, just putting the pieces into place for her kids to learn.
Her classroom was full of magic, complete with secret clubs you had to earn your way into, one of them having to do with writing. She set her expectations high, and the students worked happily to meet them.
I remember laughing aloud one day...on the door frame outside her classroom, a long strip of adding machine tape traveled the length of the frame. Sectioned off by day, various dead bees and flies were taped to the tape, with each day's tally at the bottom. Wide open windows...no AC!...led to many classroom visitors, and Sister worked with what she had.
And from there, my mother came to mind, an image so clear of her hanging out the laundry on an old clothesline, pegged with old wooden dowel clothespins. Each time she hung out the clothes, or came to unpin them to bring them in, a cardinal would alight in a nearby cherry tree. The cardinal whistled; mom whistled back, and on the conversation went the entire time she was outside.
He only talked to Mom; when the rest of us were on clothes duty, he'd sometimes land softly on a branch, observing closely, but never made a sound. It was mom or nothing!
All of this poured through my mind as I wrote this morning...a stream of writing, loosely bound by feathered visitors.
The sound...and the taste...of silence let the words flow.