What’s New in May 2023
My Teachers, the Birds
By Patricia Pearce
The other morning, as I was on our roof deck doing my morning journaling, I noticed a pair of birds land in one of the planter boxes where we grow vegetables. While I watched the leaves of the bok choi and Swiss chard tremble as the birds made their way among them, I wondered what they were up to. Were they finding bugs for their morning breakfast? Were they sampling the tender leaves of the cilantro and parsley?
I soon had my answer when one of them, then the other, flew off with a beak full of twigs and dried leaves. They made several trips from wherever they were building their nest, each time carrying off ample nesting material. I felt so happy that our roof deck garden was providing them with what they needed for the home they were building for their young ones, and I had such a deep appreciation for how they made use of what nature readily offers.
Birds have my deepest respect for the risks they take in learning to fly, and the truth is that not all of them make it. During fledgling season, while on my walks through the neighborhood, I sometimes see dead baby birds on the sidewalk, little birds who didn’t quite get the knack of flying, though far more often, tiny baby birds who were blown out of the nest even before they had a chance to try. That is the nature of nature that one has to accept. Lives end. Life goes on.
A week or so ago when I stepped out our front door to water our flowerbeds, I encountered a young bird on the porch of our neighbor’s adjoining row home who was clearly just getting the hang of flying. I gave it plenty of space as I walked over to the hose and turned it on.
A few minutes later, while I was watering, I heard an odd thumping sound coming from the front stoop of our neighbor’s house, and I went over to investigate.
The fledgling, no doubt in an attempt to launch itself back into the air, had landed instead in our neighbor’s recycling bin and couldn’t get out. So I gently laid the bin down on its side so it could walk out and make another attempt.
A wise master once advised us to consider the birds of the air, and this time of year I take the instruction to heart, because birds really are some of my best teachers.
They remind me that the best way to greet the morning is with a song in my heart. The wisest way to create a home for myself in this world is to live in harmony with nature. And the only way to experience and express who I truly am is to take the harrowing leap from the comfort of the familiar and trust that something in me knows how to fly.
Patricia Pearce is a writer, speaker, spiritual teacher, and board member of the Center for Contemporary Mysticism. Her podcast “Teachings of the Chrysalis” can be found at https://patriciapearce.com/. The author of two books, Beyond Jesus: My Spiritual Odyssey and No One in I Land: A Parable of Awakening, she lives with her spouse in Philadelphia.
‘The birds are my greatest teacher, too. Thank you for this inspiring article. Just-In-Time.
I love the ending, Patricia. And it is indeed what this moment on my life journey is about, more than ever before.
When I saw the title, I was not surprised to find that, as usual, we have a synchronicity. Just over the last few days I’ve written two poems where birds figure prominently (I’ve been writing hundreds per year for 14 years and almost never including birds). And over the last few days, my sensitivity must have increased for I’m hearing morning birdsong more glorious and loud than ever.
Please forgive me for sharing one of these two poems with you, a ghazal with 2 1/2 stanzas.
The birds were praising Life, the wondrous day./ Their song and flight were gifts, movement and song/ shared with the world. Their nature they betray/ not when they live as they have all along./ These oldest creatures love their place on Earth’s/ great lap. They’re held by One who gave them birth./ They show us our true nature to belong.
The day is spacious, green, and fertile, strong./ It waits for us to spread our wings and soar./ It gives us holy space to sing our song./ It listens to us sound our sacred roar./ Our hearts are anchored in the vast expanse/ the day provides. Wholeheartedly we dance./ The majesty of all we may explore.
The birds are thanking sun for break of day./ They chirp, “Now is the time.” They know their hymn/ is welcome, blessed by souls who love to pray./ The waiting souls sense love arise to brim.