"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Faith



"Deb, come here." The tension in Walt's voice told me I was being summoned to see something I'd be sorry to miss if I didn't move. I hurried into the dining room where he was looking out the bay window through binoculars. On the far end of our field, perched in a large Douglas fir, were two owls—my owls. Out in broad daylight, pretty far from the meadow where I usually see them.

Walt had come in just a few afternoons before with an owl feather he'd found in our yard. (I do know how lucky I am to be married to someone who offers me gifts of sightings and feathers.) And yesterday, not too long after watching the owls preen and perch, as I was looking for a gift to offer a friend, I realized I have an abundance of owl feathers. Enough that sharing didn't feel like a sacrifice (although for this friend, I would have made the sacrifice gladly).

Spotting the owls for the first time last summer was one of the highlights of the season for me. Since then they've become a regular part of my life. I listen for them whenever I'm outside, or for the screeching jays that tell me they're near. My summer days start with their sleepy squawks. My winter days start with their mating hoots and calls.

I'm just beginning to realize that owls have joined the ranks of eagles and hawks and the myriad of songbirds that provide color and music to my days. No longer a novelty. A regular every-day occurrence. Still thrilling to behold.

When I catch a glimpse of one flying away from me, just a second or two too late for the full experience of owl flight, it no longer feels like I've missed something irretrievable. I know there will be another time, another sighting, and probably sooner rather than later.

The sheer glory of living a life in which abundance is measured in feathers and wings and avian variety is a gift beyond measure. To know that whenever I step outside I can expect to have my breath swept away by some small miracle of life. Each one is a tiny explosion of joyous light in the darkness of this grieving time.

Seeing my owls, knowing they're nocturnal and not that easy to spot under any circumstances, makes me consider what else exists in the trees and air around me. Birds, critters, possibilities that are just beyond my sensory grasp.

A fine definition of faith. A certainty of the existence of that which you can't actually see or experience sensually. Faith made stronger by the unlikely, unexpected, but regular appearance of my owls. If I know such wonders as great horned owls and their babies, bald eagles soaring over my head, hummingbirds peering into my eyes with curiosity, it seems easier somehow to trust in the existence of all the wonders I haven't yet met.


23 comments:

She Writes said...

"A fine definition of faith. A certainty of the existence of that which you can't actually see or experience sensually."

This is the type of faith I have in only one thing. Love.

yaya said...

That has to be one of the best explanations of faith I've ever read. How wonderful to have all that beauty and magic in your backyard. We have a little of that too. Feathers mean alot to me...when my nephew died my Sister would find white feathers in the most unusual places. Usually when she was worried, sad or needed comfort. We actually found one right outside my Mom's hospital room right before she went to surgery. We feel they are just the small messages that let us know we're not alone. Hope you always have such faith and peace.

Wanda said...

Wonderful! I love it that they have become regulars in your life, but that you still experience the wonder.

JenniferL said...

Thank you for this and for the book you gave me. I have been fascinated by birds for so long but never had the patience or courage to actually study them in real life. I'm really looking forward to the opportunities awaiting me in HI.

Miss you already,
LOVE!

Anonymous said...

Amen!

-M in Vancouver

Stacy Crawford said...

Deb you always take me to a new level of learning. I love the simplicity of nature to rejuvenate my soul.

Richard said...

You seem to experience the entire universe in your yard.

Lavi said...

Life is always somewhere out there, waiting for us to discover it. Too bad we aren't aware of it all the time. Wonderful post, once again.

Charlene: the Polarblogger said...

Indeed, this is faith described clearly. I agree, there are so many things around us that we might have never seen and yet we believe that they exist. Same with our Creator. We may not see him but the marvels of creation eloquently declare of his undeniable existence.
Your beautiful blog reminds me of this inspiring verse:

"Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld." (Hebrews 11:1)

DJan said...

You are so wise. I love the abundance of life around me, too, but you said it so well I won't even try to add anything more. Just a heartfelt thank you for a great post.

Wanda..... said...

One of your first posts for me to read was about 'your owls'...this will become a favorite.

Janna Qualman said...

We all need that faith.

I'm coming to love owls. They're something I've really been drawn to the last few months. I know I'm in good company. :)

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb, Living in and with nature must surely be part of the reason your writings seem so wise. In one posting, you give us an entire overview of faith. One posting as compared to thick tomes by theologians. Like William Blake, you "see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wildflower." Thank you for sharing your musings with us. Peace.

kario said...

Gorgeous. I love that you and Walt share this place and the love of your surroundings. Those owls have a message for you and your receptivity is one major reason they keep showing up.

Sandi said...

I love this definition of faith, the idea that it's "made stronger by the unlikely, unexpected, but regular appearance of my owls." This is faith - believing, knowing, trusting - being open to the experiences you see, and don't see. You have been given the gift of your owls being present, but your awed presence is what allows you to gather in the faith building sights and sounds that surround you.
A beautiful post.

Linda Myers said...

In May I traveled to western Nebraska to find the graves of my great grandparents. The fellow who assisted us in the cemetery pointed out a pair of white owls who nest there every year. They looked like sentinals watching over the quiet resting places.

colbymarshall said...

That is very cool about your owls. I have a cardinal who lives in my yard, and seeing him reminds me of how cool the world is, that such gorgeous creatures exist.

I love what you said about seeing things like this making it easier to believe in those you haven't seen...perfectly true.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I read this late last night and didn't comment. As usual, you made me think. Faith - blind faith. Such a good comparison you've made here. I'm thinking this piece could go much further.

LauraX said...

"The sheer glory of living a life in which abundance is measured in feathers and wings and avian variety is a gift beyond measure. To know that whenever I step outside I can expect to have my breath swept away by some small miracle of life. Each one is a tiny explosion of joyous light in the darkness of this grieving time."

Oh Deb...yes Faith.

Retired English Teacher said...

You always touch me with you lessons on life, love and faith.

Katie Gates said...

A wonderful post, Deb. Like owls, I am nocturnal, and I love it when I have written or worked with beads all night and I am still awake for the variety of bird songs that begin the day. It's a beautiful, life-affirming chorus.

Mark Lyons said...

An amazing definition of faith!! I am thrilled that there are so many ways that this world provides us to have faith in someone greater...and I'm glad that you are reminded of that regularly. I know it helps during the rough times.

I love you
Mark

Barb said...

I love thinking of your owls, Deb. I believe the owl is very symbolic of life and also of death. Perhaps they appear so readily to you so that you can process all that you have experienced these last months and then move forward on your own flight path.