A Mocking Bird’s lonely song
What is considered early in the morning will vary from person to person and place to place. Since we have our Vigil’s at 4 AM, after being here for a few years, that time seems like 6 AM. I am lucky I love the morning hours so when I sometimes wake up at 1:30 and feel refreshed, I like to go for walks, for it is not really that early here. Around the buildings, in our front parking lot by the bakery and also up to the store we have lighting. I find the sunlight too bright for me and the sun too hot, so I seldom go out during the day and now that I am older, I have to wear sunglasses in order to be outside. So the coolness of the night and the darkness are soothing to me. The night lights to me are very restful and calming. So it is a nice environment to be out and to take a nice slow walk.
Most mornings I see some deer. Most run when they see me walking, some others just continue to eat. With a very few I can come up about three feet from them and they don’t seem to mind. However, if I stop then they start to fidget and stomp their hoof on the ground…then the runoff. Yet, there is even a smaller number who seem curious about who and what I am. I guess they figure I am not going to eat them, so a few times a deer has come right up to me, say about three feet and just looked at me. It almost seemed as if they were trying to make some sort of breakthrough in their awareness. One even shook her head and turned away slowly and went back to eating. Deer are beautiful, but for some reason, people think they are dainty when the opposite is true. Their hoofs are very sharp and the strength in their legs is astounding, so I do have a lot of respect for them.
At this time, because the bridge that is on the road of our frontage property on 212 is being rebuilt so there is no traffic at all passing us by. So the silence is profound, beautiful and uninterrupted, some mornings the insects are even silent.
About two weeks ago, on such a silent morning, as I was returning to the retreat house and was in the parking lot that the bakery sets on, the last tree on the left suddenly became alive with the song of a Mocking Bird. One bird call after another was loudly and joyously sung. So I stopped and listened. Then I noticed there was no response, just this one bird calling out getting no response….yet it continued.
It brought out a pang of sadness in me and I wondered about that. As I started to ponder this, I began to see that in some way this bird reminded me of mankind. Even those of us who have deep faith, we do not always get the response we would like from the Infinite One, in fact, many of us may never get one. Yet like the Mocking Bird, we persist in our prayer of longing for connection. The Mocking Bird perhaps is simply responding to an instinct to mate, as well as making out territory for itself, something powerful and it can’t do otherwise. I envy animals because they are not burdened with the depth of self-awareness that we have, they know what they need to do and without thinking do it.
We question, struggle and seek to find answers to life’s mysteries. I believe that prayer is a universal response to the world and its often incomprehensible presence in our lives. We can marvel at its beauty, or be terrified at its seeming indifference to us. This reality drives many deeper into faith, into seeking what is behind this wonderful, awful, beautiful and tragic world. Those like the Mocking Bird who continue in their prayer life, find that in spite of themselves deep changes take place slowly over the years. They also learn that prayer is not a protection to the ups and downs of life, yet it gives a center to stand from, a relationship with Infinite-Mystery and in that even aging seems like a grace, for we begin to understand that all stages in our lives are good, but each succeeding stage on our pilgrimage is more important than the one proceeding it. So our last years take on a depth of meaning that younger people may not have any inkling of. I certainly did not.
So we continue to sing, in spite of suffering, and in our unconscious futile desire to make prayer into some sort of magic where we can control our lives and get through it unscathed. This is impossible of course. For like that Mocking Bird singing hopefully for a response, it will one day be silent, it will no longer be part of this world…..so it is with us, though unlike the Mocking Bird we are saddled with the knowledge that we will one day cease to exist as far as this world is concerned.
So like Mother Theresa, many go through life living in the darkness of faith, yet, in their seeking, they continue out of true love and the desire for truth….for me these are the great souls closer to the mystery than those of us who do not live there all the time.
Faith is a gift, yet we do have to respond, be open and deal with doubts. Yet why should doubt get the last word, why not let doubt drive us deeper in the mystery instead of escaping into skepticism and atheism. For the Christian, the New Testament points to the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because of that and that only that it was written in the first place. Without the Resurrection, Jesus was just another failed messianic figure, so common in his lifetime.—Br.MD