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Flying Lessons

"For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them."

Thich Nhat Hanh

You may not believe my story. But it's true. Perhaps even Truth. It tells of simple magic that begins with opening our eyes - on the drive to work in slow traffic and seeing a mist curl around the meadow; as we wash dinner dishes and notice the beauty of a soap bubble reflecting rainbow hues; in a boring meeting when we realize with gratitude the job that provides our food; when we take a walk and feel the solid goodness of the ground beneath our feet.

Mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh calls it. Practicing God's presence in the words of Brother Lawrence. In everything we do we can watch for portents of a deeper Spiritual essence that offers peace and calm in the midst of all that challenges our beings. We can see the Great Spirit of Native American wisdom moving in signs that bring insight and truth. It's all ours...when we choose to see.

A few mornings ago we had the powerful privilege of seeing a young osprey’s first flight. For days we had observed three nests, and one in particular called us to closer observation. So, after our morning walk on the south side of Concord Park, we drove down to the large parking lot across the street by the ball fields. Park officials discourage the nests, but fortunately the plastic owls frighten no one in particular and certainly not the bold ospreys.

We unobtrusively parked in the shade of the old tree as far away as we could to observe Mother Osprey and the young one perched on the side of a sprawling nest. Small chirpings could be heard whenever there was a pause in the traffic. They watched us with wary stillness; we watched them with curiosity and wonder. Mother Osprey seemed to sense our quiet awe and they settled comfortably in our presence.

The fledging began stirring, testing broad wings in flutters of feathers. Over and over he stretched, taking little hops as he opened his wings to breezes of the still-early day. He hovered on the edge, building courage and gaining skill with each bounce.

“You can do it little one,” I whispered. “This is what you were created to do ~ soar!”

Did his acute ears pick up my encouragement? Did he understand the heart-song of my foreign words? I think yes. But it seemed he changed his mind and dipped back into the warmth of his twig home. Another day perhaps. The nest was still for what seemed ages and we started to leave. Then…up he popped! Unfolding huge wings with more confidence, he knew - and we knew – this was the day for his first flight.

“You can fly!” I sent the message silently this time with a bow, appreciating our Oneness.

Then a leap and up he rose, climbing higher and higher with mounting joy. His elation echoed in vibrations heard not by our ears, but by our souls. We watched him circle in wide arcs ~ three times, four, now five ~ to swing by the nest where I think (no, I’m certain) I heard him call, “Okay, this was fun. But help! How do I land?”

We chuckled from our ground level vantage as he crash landed into the soft nest of childhood. Well done little raptor. Well done! And well done Mother Osprey.

Time to go our way and let him enjoy this joyous first day of winged flight. Quietly, we got back in the car and drove along the edge of the parking lot. We stopped and bowed again to Mother Osprey as she followed our every move with watchful care. In return, this majestic bird inclined her head left to right to left to right and again - a profound silent acknowledgement of our gratitude.

We are Spirit Beings – all of us. Connected. One.

Because we listened and followed the instinct to be in this place at this time, because we stopped to be hushed observers, because we communicated with vibrations of the heart, respecting Nature’s boundaries…we were gifted a rare and beautiful sight – first flight. And even more, we were given the matchless honor of one soul connecting with another.

Come forward in my story several days later. We returned to check on our young Osprey. I caught a glimpse of a young bird atop a pole a good ways before we got to the nest. I was pretty sure this was our friend. Since it wasn't practical to stop there, we drove to the home nest where Mother Osprey was perched jauntily on top of that plastic owl, watching and alert. No young one was to be seen, so we went back where I had observed the perching bird. Nothing. Just the pole. Then...out of the empty sky an Osprey swooped over, low enough to be sure to be seen. Another circle, up high, and a deliberate swing over a tree top, grabbing the top leaves. "Look! See what I've learned in these days!" He was clearly showing off for us as he glided on strong now-sure wings back to the nest just to be certain we saw, just to be clear we knew, "Yes, it is I! Yes, I know it is you. My spirit greets your spirits." Indeed.


Original photos 2021 by Dorothy Barkley Bryson on iPhone 8

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