Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015 - Winter Bird


A winter bird pecked around in the snow under a bird feeder, looking for a seed here and there in a frozen world.  By and by, a small squirrel came along and asked the winter bird what he was doing.  Of course, the bird ignored him because birds are not known for their kindness or manners.  Birds are (have always been, and will always be) very self-centered, shrewd, and unemotional.  It is not because they are mean but because they are not mammals, so mammals should not take offense by a bird following his own nature.

In any event, the squirrel did not give up because squirrels are notorious for constantly going back and forth and analyzing every situation that presents itself.  So the squirrel asked the bird again and again and again.  The bird would most likely have ignored him each time except that he had run out of little seeds to find, and it occurred to him that the squirrel might have some food stored away.

The winter bird.

“I’m looking for seeds, of course,” said the bird in a rather irritated tone.
“Sometimes they’re here and sometimes they’re not,” replied the squirrel.
“So it would seem,” said the bird, “but I expect that it wouldn’t matter so much to a great forager such as yourself, who most likely has stored away a good deal of food.”
“Quite right!”
“Of course, the snow has always fascinated me,” continued the bird, “because of the many lessons it can teach.  Birds and snow have their own secrets, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“Oh, of course,” said the bird, “but you wouldn’t need the wisdom of the snow as a busy squirrel anyhow.”
“I might like some of it,” said the squirrel.
“You wouldn’t need it.  You’re a mammal.  Mammals are too busy to listen to the snow.”
“I might listen,” the squirrel replied.
“Can you sit still for five minutes?”
“Yes.”
“Very well.  We can make a trade.  I will give you the wisdom of the snow if you will give me some of your stored seeds,” said the bird.
“But I worked very hard for those seeds,” the squirrel said.
“Wisdom isn’t cheap.”
“How much did you pay for it?”
“I stumbled upon it accidentally,” coughed the bird.
“Did you steal it?”
“No!” said the bird.  “Wisdom can’t be stolen, only . . . acquired.  Now do you want it or not?”

So they worked out a deal.  The squirrel promised the bird some seeds, and the bird promised the squirrel the wisdom of the snow.  Then the two of them went and hid behind a snow-covered tree, as the bird had instructed.  The bird asked for some seeds before starting, but the squirrel refused outright.  What the squirrel didn’t know was that this was his lucky day because the bird was desperately hungry and was about to impart a great gift, albeit reluctantly, if the squirrel were smart enough to sit and listen.

“Now sit where you are very silently,” said the bird, “and do not move.  Just sit and watch.”
“What are we watching for?” asked the squirrel.
“Sit silently and watch!”

And this is what they saw.  The world was very silent and still.  No other animals were around.  Even the wind had found other things to do.  The sky was gray and snow was falling.  Everything was cold and white and silent.  There was no sound, no voice, no hubbub of the woods.  There was nothing but snow-covered trees and snowy fields and snow falling gently from the sky.  Everywhere there was snow, snow, snow.

“The winter takes its time,” the bird said, “as it is in no rush.  The snow flakes fall ever so slowly, falling and drifting, softly landing like the tiniest of down feathers.  They are not hurried.  There is no rush.”

The squirrel looked at the bird and just blinked his eyes, not understanding.  The bird sighed and rolled his eyes and continued.

“There is no rush,” said the bird, “but there is no stopping it either.  The tiny flakes are ever so tiny, but they are relentless in their pillow-soft onslaught.  They fall and they fall and they fall.  They do not ask permission, but their ways are so quiet that no one notices what they are doing.”

The squirrel cocked his head to one side confusedly, and the bird sighed and continued.

“Just a bit, just a bit, just a bit.  Slowly, slowly, one flake at a time, one thought at a time, building and building.  And suddenly!  Where there was nothing, there is something!  Where there was a void, there is substance.  What was unmanifest is manifest!  One tiny flake at a time.  The entire world has changed completely, incredibly, one tiny flake at a time.”

The squirrel looked at the bird for a long time.  He didn’t completely understand everything the bird had said, but he felt as if he were about to understand, as if he were teetering on the edge of the cliff of knowledge, about to fall into the well of thought.

“I will give you your seeds,” said the squirrel.  He hurried off chattering and scrambling to his home and came back with a nice little sack filled with seeds, which he spilled on the ground and gave to the bird.  The bird gobbled them up quick as lightning.

“And what do you call this wisdom?” asked the squirrel.
“It is the magic of allowing,” said the bird, “of going with the flow, of accepting, of persevering.  It is the wisdom of doing very little and accomplishing incredible feats.  It is the magic of intention.”
“Well, I will think about it when I have more time,” said the squirrel, “but right now I am very busy.”  With that, he scrambled off chattering all the way to his home.

The bird sighed and jumped off into the breeze.  He flew with the current and not against it.

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