A fox came to me with a piece of blank paper yesterday. I could see that some words were written on it but I couldn’t see what they were. Then today I realise that they say
You have forgotten to kiss the wounded Earth.
He gave me a metal bracket, cream coloured with a screw in the middle of it. Triangular arms radiating out. It was an object that was familiar, from somewhere half buried in a cluttered outbuilding. In my childhood I think I must have stood at the doorway, looking in at all the treasures left to slowly entropy. It must have been sticking out, once useful, now detached from its original purpose and left, forgotten in the pile.
Five baby wrens flew around me as I entered into the woods, darting in and out of the tangle of wire fencing where their nest must have been. Low to the ground, wings beating like bedsheets in a hurricane.
Wounds all around and within.
A tyre lies right by where I decide to put up my hammock. How did it get here? How come it was left? Was it abandoned by someone who still intends to pop back and get it or has it, like me, slipped out of human consciousness for a while?
I shall bring it back.
It becomes the skull of a bird in flight, with its wings outstretched, flying towards the East. I spend some time collecting the right sticks. This is one big bird, I realise. Its skull alone could weigh as much as an elephant’s so it needs a big, glorious body, vibrant and powerful. His beak could swallow the fox in one gulp. Yet this is a bird of peace. Benevolent. And I am glad of its company.
As the long afternoon draws downwards and north-westward, I stand in the glorious sunlight at the edge of the meadow and enjoy its warmth. Suddenly, a sheep and her lambs come trundling towards my spot, utterly unaware of my existence. I catch my breath in wonder. They are not scared, they are not even aware of me. I have become completely invisible. I watch her as she snickers and grazes, flicking flies as she goes with ears and tail. Her being brings tears to my eyes and I fall in love.
For who did ever ask her ancestor for permission for this relationship? Did human and sheep ever make a pact that she has to live her life by now? I know the answer to this. I am on this side of the fence, she on that one and she is as doomed as I.
As dusk falls the badger comes out of his den. He lollops like a bulldozer in exactly the direction he wants to go. I am nothing to him. Idoes not even exist in Badger-time.
I sleep and sleep. I awake from a deep pool of dreams and lessons and guides and fantasies. Caroline calls me back in a dream: there are four places left she says. Four places for what? I wonder that still. I lie in my gently swinging hammock, slowly pulling the threads of an awake state together and watch the russet-grey squirrels as they run up and down headfirst every single tree. They explore woodpiles and undergrowth. They stop and take note of invisible messages, paws frozen in mid-air, bodies pure muscle and tails twitching. Birds squabble and I feel the beginnings of hunger.
Being makes the squirrels come out
Doing sends them away
I move to reach my bag of nuts and wham! the wood is empty except for the scolding birds and the sound of plastic rustling loudly and unnaturally as I feed myself. I long for this to be over so that they can come back.
When it is, and they do, so does the rain. I sit, deep in the green womb of the wet forest, meditating, chanting with eyes open and I take it all in. I bathe in the green and the chant and the bowl and the drip of the water and the drinking of the trees. I lose myself through a square window of sticks, gazing at the far distance and the green enters into me. I breathe in something rich, perfect, wounded and real. The boundary of my skin dissolves and the wood becomes me, I become the wood. I become the rain and the rain becomes me. I breathe their oxygen and they breathe in my carbon dioxide and I don’t even notice as I am lost in the sea of green.
The Bird I made lies, enormous, in the wet ground elder. Its wings outstretched and I feel the expectancy of first, fledgling flight, like those tiny wrens.
I turn to my little Pocket Rumi book and open it to see what there is to see:
Wings of Desire
People are distracted by objects of desire,
And afterwards repent of the lust they have indulged,
Because they have indulged with a phantom
And are left even farther from Reality than before.
Your desire for the illusory is a wing,
By means of which a seeker might ascend to Reality.
When you have indulged a lust, your wings drop off;
You become lame and that fantasy flees.
Preserve the wing and do not indulge in such lust,
So that the wing of desire might bear you to Paradise.
People fancy that they are enjoying themselves,
But they are really tearing out their wings,
For the sake of an illusion.
-Rumi. From Mathnawi III, 2133-38
I sit back, overwhelmed that such a soul could reach across the aeons and touch my soul like this. Guides and wisdom-keepers have told us over and over in sacred texts of these truths. I am humbled that they have loved so deeply all unknown and unborn people, far, far into the distant future. Tears well up; the rain finds its way to the ground through my tear ducts and down, tumbling freely to nourish the Earth. My lusts are, and have been, illusions and I know what it means to tear out my own wings. I have torn them out, again and again. It has taken me many years and many mistakes in the quest to find where they lay, discarded, and to find a way to reattach them. I made yarn from different things. Many times I thought I had sewn them back on, only to realise that the yarn had broken and the ragged remnants were flapping, useless, in the wind.
Tentatively I am trying a new yarn, one that has taken more than a decade to make and I feel the expectancy of the fledgling as it stands, poised on the brink of the nest. To fly towards a Paradise that was always there, and to discern illusion from Reality.
Humbled, I turn to pack up my shelter and return to the fire.