Grace, Glory and ….a white pigeon?!

“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice,
forgive him—lest there be two bad men.”

St. Augustine


(an odd visitor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday morning, I was out picking the burgeoning blueberry bushes.
I must confess that I’ve gotten a late start doing such due to both a lack of time
and desire…
So in my absence, the birds have pecked their fair share and the latest rains
have plumped them up a bit too much…
Yet I felt obliged to get to my picking responsibilities…

Suddenly I hear my husband hollering.
What he was hollering was alluding me, but I could tell it was with a heightened sense of alarm.

I drop my berry bowl and race up the bank toward the carport.
He’s not there.
I race into the house and he’s now on the back deck scanning the yard looking for me.

“Did you see it???!!” he exclaims—
“See what?” I reply with heightened concern.

“The white bird!!”

Huh???

“The white bird by the driveway??”

“No” I dead pan.

“How could you miss it???”

“Well I heard you hollering and I thought something was wrong…I wasn’t aware there was a bird…”

But sure enough, I walk out into the carport and I see a white bird bobbing about in the grass.

It was too big to be a white dove.

I walked closer.

The bird was nonplused and was obviously accustomed to people as it paid me no never mind.

Upon further investigation, we determined the dove was a pigeon.

Firstly, pigeons don’t hang out in our neck of the country woods and secondly,
a solid white pigeon is certainly an anomaly.
The bird was not an albino.

In his own little world and not bothered by us, the bird sauntered up the driveway
over to the other side of the yard where the grass is actually greener—
he just kept bobbing up and down making his way through the grass while I went back to berry picking.

My theory was that perhaps there had been a wedding over the weekend and
someone released white birds…one of which was not a dove but a pigeon who just
kept flying.

And so as we were gifted by this odd little visitor, a white bird that brings my thoughts
immediately to that of the Holy Spirit…and given the fact that Sunday was the marking of Pentecost,
I will leave us with these thought-provoking words by Blessed Cardinal Newman…

“My God, you know infinitely better than I how little I love you.
I would not love you at all except for your grace.
It is your grace that has opened the eyes of my mind and enabled them to see your glory.
It is your grace that has touched my heart and brought upon it the influence of
what is so wonderfully beautiful and fair . . .
O my God, whatever is nearer to me than you, things of this earth,
and things more naturally pleasing to me, will be sure to interrupt the sight of you,
unless your grace interferes.
Keep my eyes, my ears, my heart from any such miserable tyranny.
Break my bonds—-raise my heart.
Keep my whole being fixed on you.
Let me never lose sight of you; and, while I gaze on you,
let my love of you grow more and more every day.”

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, p. 44-5

Don’t ask

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds — how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives — and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!
John Burroughs, Birds and Poets, 1887

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(mourning doves / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just as with some people we see, the advice holds true with certain animals and birds. . .
sometimes it’s better not to ask but to merely go on about one’s business. . .shaking a head as you go is certainly permissible.

Luckily however these two mourning doves weren’t up to any funny business, I just happened to snap the camera in mid ruffling of feather and wing.

I do so greatly enjoy watching these birds, along with the bevy of fellow winged creatures who call my yard home. There’s just something blissfuly cathartic about spending time, merely observing the fastidious behavior of these feathery neighbors. Whereas the doves are not prone to fly up to the feeders as the other birds, rather preferring to graze about the ground underneath the feeders gobbling up any seed or corn that is carelessly dropped, their waddling and jutting of their heads is often a comical sight.

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I was not aware of the rather peculiar phenomenon of doves, as well as pigeons, of actually producing their own milk. It is a milk of sorts produced in their crops known simply as crop milk. Just prior to the laying of eggs, the female dove stops eating, setting into motion a chain of physiological events trigged by the body reacting to the panic of starvation. This being the time when the body produces the milk, which in turn is what the mother dove feeds her new hatchlings.

It is because of this peculiar maternal sacrifice which has forever linked the dove as being a symbol of motherhood and all to that which is maternal.
Who knew!!??

And as to our Mourning doves earning their rather sombre and reverent name,
we may merely look to the Roman poet Virgil.
Taken from one of his early eclogues and quoted here from wikipedia, we have one of the earliest references to the humble dove and to its most mournful sound.

“Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name, possibly taken from Virgil’s First Eclogue, (lines 57-59 translated from the Latin as follows):

“Yonder, beneath the high rock, the pruner shall sing to the breezes,
Nor meanwhile shall thy heart’s delight, the hoarse wood-pigeons,
Nor the turtle-dove cease to mourn from aerial elm trees (nec gemere aeria cessabit turtur ab ulmo)
Here the Latin verb gemo, gemere, gemui, gemitum signifies “to sigh, groan; to coo; to sigh or groan over, lament, bemoan”

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Whatcha looking at? (otherwise known as looking, seeking, finding)

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Is it just me or is this dove giving the other two doves “the eye?”
Perhaps one of the other doves is putting a move on this dove’s lady friend.
Perhaps one of the other doves is putting a move on this dove’s boy friend.
Either way, quite a hoot.

Which brings us all to ask the question. . .What are you looking at—or better yet, what are you looking for. . . . . .

Looking and finding—

Some folks spend a lifetime looking, seeking, searching—a lifetime without ever finding what it is they seek.
Some folks don’t seem to ever really know what it is of which they seek.

The emptiness, the shallowness, the idleness—a deep internal sense of lacking. Can’t put a finger on it, but there’s just something not right.
The disquiet which seems to keep the rhythm off kilter.
Restlessness, nervousness, a very deep unhappiness is brewing.
All of which sends us out on a never ending journey of looking, seeking and searching for what it is that will fill up this deep longing, desire, wanting, need. . .

The quick answer, the band-aid if you will, is to simply placate the gnawing. Putting a cease and desist to the seemingly empty quest of searching and looking—but we continue to ask. . . searching and looking for what.

Some turn to drugs and alcohol in order to numb the gnawing. Some think of an endless quest of self gratification through which a variety of sexual outlets and liaisons will finally silence the yearning. Some think that an endless trip to the mall of materialism will satiate the hunger. Violence becomes an outlet, anger escalates–anger at others—yet the truth of the anger is really that of self.
A long loathing hatred of self.

Maybe fame and fortune must be the key. The continuum to climbing the proverbial ladder of success– yet, as if in a dream, there is no real top to the ladder as there are simply more rungs added upon rung–a never ending climb upward, hand over hand, step upon endless step. . .

Perhaps it must be a quest for perfection—perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect bodies—defying age, that must be the answer.
Remodel, remake, reclaim.
Tuck, tack, augment.
To be beautiful, that’s the ticket—isn’t that what the god of Hollywood tells us little people? We need to be a glamour star for that is truly what we must be seeking. Living life as large and as glamorously as possible?

Yet, the restlessness that resides deep within the marrow of the now weary bones simply will not be silenced. For some it all becomes too late—the endless quest for placation leads to self destruction. Is that finally the answer?! Simply to silence it, making it stop —forever? Is that the hope we seek

But therein lies the rub, for the ache, the need, the void. . .it is not ever silenced—not by any of those devastatingly destructive choices. . .not by any of those. . .ever.

For it is actually in the silence in which the answer lies—
Rather than turning up the world as loud as we can, thinking it will drown out the ache, the hurt, the pain. . .
The answer, all along, is simply in the Quiet. .
Why are we so afraid of the silence?
Why are we so afraid?
Why?

Can any of you hear it?
Do any of you hear it?
Is that a voice. . .
Is this a dream?
No.
You hear it again. This time it is louder.
A voice.
It is a voice.
Just as quickly as you and I hear the Voice, we suddenly notice that the ache, the pain the void, the hurt—it’s not as loud, not as deep, not as empty.
You and I may finally exhale—as a lifetime of seeking, searching, looking is all released in a single sigh.
A release
the finality of letting go,
finally relinquishing
All the pain, the aching, the burning, the relentless gnawing is now all replaced. . .
There is now real—
Peace
Silence
Completeness
Oneness

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”