Night-time road-side teacher
It was the eyes catching the light that caught my attention as my headlights panned through the turn. And I wasn't sure if what I was looking at was live. I actually thought it was something like a plastic decoy sitting by the side of the road and had this momentary wondering about how that decoy got there. Until, as I watched in my rearview mirror, it turned its head. Owl.
I pulled over half expecting it to be gone by the time I stopped, but it was still standing there, watching me. I carefully got out of the car. As I did that I gentled my energy and sent Owl a blessing and a greeting. I walked a little bit closer. And still Owl stood there.
I did not have my camera but did have my phone. I said “Is it OK? Thank you,” as I took a photo. But it really was too dark even with the street light. Mostly I was curious and concerned. Was it injured? And so I asked, “Are you OK little one?” Owl watched me and then a car went by and it looked after the car and then turned back to me.
I stepped a little bit closer and sat on the curb right across from it so that I was more eye level. I looked to see if I could tell whether Owl was injured. And I don't know about owls really, but it didn't look injured. It was just still there. Why? And so I simply watched and sent it loving energy. There was something sort of sticking out the front under Owl’s body. I wondered what I was seeing, if it was feathers that had been injured. I couldn't tell. But there were no obvious strange angles, there was no blood. Owl continued to watch me, watch the various cars that went by, not very many, this is after all a little bit of a rural-ish area.
After a while I noticed someone walking up the road with 2 dogs on a leash. I quietly stood hoping to get his attention, but he was on his phone walking and texting and paying no attention. The dogs hadn't yet noticed Owl. When he finally got close and looked up I gestured “Shhh” and slowly moved to indicate across the road. By this time the dogs had seen and turned toward Owl. The guy finally looked just as Owl lifted up and flew away. As Owl rose I could tell that what I had seen earlier was that Owl had something white and furry in its claws. Dinner. And then was gone.
When I was reflecting on Owl this morning I got a sense that this interaction carried a message connected to my Samurai, my Seiki lineage, my ancestors guiding me in ways to look and to pay attention and to learn. I know having Owl appear to me in this way is not random and is not to be taken lightly.
We often think of owls as being wise. The attributes of an owl include the ability to turn its head 360 degrees to see all the way around, to look in every direction. And owls are night creatures. Night time is when they hunt, when it's dark, so owls teach something about the gifts of the night, nourishment of the night, learning to see in darkness.
I remember a story my cousin told about our Samurai Grandfather who studied judo and kendo as well as Seiki. My cousin was about 5 years old. One night Grandfather was practicing with a wooden sword and my cousin was curiously creeping down the hall to watch. Grandfather's back was turned to him as he crept closer and closer and closer. And just as he got to the doorway Grandfather turned and with a large howl raised the sword and started to chase him back up the hallway. It was as if Grandfather could see behind him. I have other friends who have studied in other traditions of martial arts who have talked about their Masters who could also see behind them. ....
So learning to see all the way around. Owls hunt at night, can see in the dark. So learning to see the gifts of the darkness. Owls can also blend into the trees or whatever is the backdrop of the place that those particular owls come from. An owl standing still often cannot be seen. So learning to be invisible, to be still enough to be invisible. In Japan owls are symbols of luck and also protection from hardship or suffering as well as symbols of knowledge.
I honour Owl's teachings and will continue to listen and learn ....
Just to sit and have that moment, eye level to beautiful Owl. Wow. Thank you Owl. People from Indigenous traditions often say “all my relations” because we are connected to all things. So even as I think of Owl’s connection to my ancestors, Owl itself is my ancestor. I am grateful for the wisdom of all my ancestors ....
Reflections on my dad
It's my dad's birthday today and I’ve been thinking about how young he would have been when he fathered me. Of course I have no actual memories of that time. But I imagine him a bit through my neices and nephews and my own son who are all kind of around that age he would have been ....
It's .... O, it's fun to imagine and also strange .... to imagine my dad, not even 30 years old, with a family .... My dad is kind of this odd combination of, ummm, well, not exactly institutions not the right word but he, you know he did all the proper adult things, got married, had kids, bought a house, had a job. all that. But also a little bit of an adventurous soul. When we were young, I was 3 years old, he took 6 months off of work and took the family to Japan. And when he was about 50, he and my mom took off and went to the South Pacific .... He retired somewhat early but never really stopped working until more recently the last sort of 5 or so years maybe, well into his seventies he kept working ....
I wonder if his life was as he imagined it might be. I know for me my life is not as I imagined it might be. Because we just don't know what the world is going to throw at us. As much as we plan, as much as we do the things we're supposed to or not supposed to do .... Other things emerge.
There's a picture of me and my dad when I'm just tiny, a little baby looking in the mirror. And he looks so young there. Of course I guess I do too I was a baby. Two young old souls looking in the mirror.
Mirrors are a bit of a, bit of a device because they allow us to see in a way we could otherwise not see. We never truly see ourselves because we're always looking at ourselves backwards through the mirror .... Mirrors, looking glasses, take us into places that are unexpected. And they are also portals. I wonder what my dad was thinking when he looked in that mirror holding his baby daughter. I wonder what I was thinking .... ....
Sometimes we give my dad a hard time. Well not even sometimes, kind of all the time. And he takes it with good humor .... He has taken many things in life with good humor .... He has welcomed people into the family .... .... ....
Yeah, you know my dad sometimes seems a bit, is taciturn the word? But he has taught me an awful lot about hospitality, about grace .... About both living within and without of the box. Those are good things to have learned. Thanks dad ....
Listen to audio reflection or read below.
Reading the latest edition of Parabola Magazine on Balance, I was struck by 2 encounters. One was the brief retelling of a story of, perhaps a temple acolyte, who upon coming into work is berated by his boss for causing someone's murder and in a particular town. And the the man defended himself saying well I haven't even ever been to that particular town. And his boss said that is true, but you are energetically connected to someone who is and when you yelled at your wife, when you did not prevent yourself from yelling at your wife, that energy impacted that other person whose energy came out in a way that caused him to take another's life. So you are to blame ....
Wow, I mean that's a pretty big, Um .... for me in any case it, it's kind of rough to have to wrap your head around that. And it was reminding me of that notion that I'm sure many of us have heard about when the butterfly, butterfly flaps its wings then a storm occurs on the other side of the world.
Maybe it's not that the butterfly, that light gentle movement of the butterfly causes a bit of a breeze which then picks up and carries on and eventually picking up more energy becomes a storm. It may simply be that the butterfly is connected to something. The wind that creates storm. Or it may simply be that butterflies and storms both happen. I don't profess to know that .... But it is certainly something that makes me thoughtful. Because I do believe that how we carry our energy and the energy that we send out into the world does impact the world. We've all experienced someone else's good mood or bad mood, stepped on an elevator with someone who made us immediately uncomfortable even while they were smiling at us ....
And then the other encounter had to do with connection to stars, to the divinity of stars, like a Core Star. And then how that lives within us, our own Core Star, part of the great All in All, the Universal Oneness but living also within us. We are within the Oneness and the Oneness is within us .... And again, there’s a question then of how .... How do I live? In knowing this, how does this call me to live? How does this invite me to live? .... Compel me?....
And then, if we lived, if I live in that deeply spiritual reality of being within the Oneness and the Oneness within me, that Core Star is equally out in the infinite and within me .... .... .... If this is true .... how do I bring that Oneness with me into the world? Huh. It’s funny as I started off that thought I had a question and then I lost the question so the question I just asked I'm not sure was the same one that I started with.
But it also then was reminding me of a quote and I cannot, in this moment, think to whom to attribute the quote. A relatively contemporary spiritual person. But I'm not sure how contemporary. But what I remember about it is this person’s comment about “I used to pray for 2 hours every morning in order to prepare for the day and now I prepare for 2 hours every morning for a day of prayer.”* Such a beautiful turn around. Speaking so specifically to the purposefulness of how we walk in the world. And also, the purpose of a deep and rich spiritual life .... “I used to pray for 2 hours every morning to prepare for the day, to prepare to walk in the world. And now I prepare for 2 hours every morning for a day of prayer.”
We continue to walk in the world but how do we walk? What do we bring with us? What energy do we share .... ?
* It was John Shelby Spong.
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