Song, Uninterrupted.

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Christ

One day recently I stepped outside into a hive of birdsong.  The sun was filtering down between the branches of trees at the edge of the yard, and the birds were dotted amongst the boughs, positioned instinctively behind leaf and shadow.  It was like entering a Bev Doolittle painting that had come to life.  Soprano spirals curled into the air, sounds that had been scribbled by the practiced hand of a master, as if Matisse had been doodling on the space before him in octave-colored inks.  Riding on gently bobbing twigs, their little heads turned in quick snaps, too fast to follow, their eyes always looking, scanning, searching.  I realized that seeing and singing, though given separate titles by our language, arise together.  There are no distinctions between them.

The fundamental meaning embodied by the songbird cannot be understood through the enunciation of its specific properties.  Giving and receiving are one, a flowing, effortless simplicity, a wholeness that cannot be divided into steps.

I heard a siren, then, from a distance– an ambulance maybe, or a fire truck.  The volume was just loud enough to eclipse the birdsong, but no more, as if its source came from a place located along winding trails through the sky that only a larger, black-winged bird might fly in a day.  I wondered about this sudden intrusion and the effect it might have upon the rhapsody all around me.  Curious how long it would take for the wake of this passing machine to reach the beach, I waited, counting…  One breath…  Another…  A third.  A beautiful, curious face trilled across the glade.  The Artist was still at play… watching… composing… listening… calling forth…  I exhaled again.  A black fly danced a loony jig before my crossed eyes.  My fifth breath was a consciously directed one that struck the little jigger like a typhoon, hurling him to far away lands, perhaps experienced as the blissful hand slap of a Zen teacher that shatters the buzzing of complacent desires.  Then I looked up in time to realize the siren was fading back into the void from whence it came, receding like a strange dream over the audible horizon, an ice cream truck turning the corner at the end of the block.  Throughout the brief episode, Matisse had never put his pencil down, never jolted upright and sent a streaking line into the margin, never paused to ask the question.

Having spent considerable periods of time over the preceding few days discussing the “issues at hand” with one or another of the more outspoken and discontented voices of my inner electorate, and yearning to break free again into  free air, I was struck by the overlay of one world upon the other.  On the one hand, I have this life within me where Jesus and I and you and Hafiz and countless others, both here and there, both creedless and devout, are all engaged in a flowing conversation that is the world.  We are like those songbirds: present and alert, our songs somehow mutually interwoven, each voice both a response to what has arisen and the cause of what arises.  Then, like the distant siren, there is this other world that vies for attention– a world punctuated by alarms and committees, by distress and striving, by shame and wanting.

Sometimes, unlike the wise birds behind my home, I am hooked by the siren.  It is like flicking a switch and suddenly seeing the world through an inverted spectrum, and finding oneself suddenly all alone.  It is as if the smooth and endless flow of being has curdled into chunky and awkward thoughts, like putting in special ear plugs that drown out the chatter of myriad beloved beings, and amplify only the sounds of whirling metal chopping the air into 700 slices per second.  It is selfish, in a way, this close-quarter drowning out of fullness, my imposition of structure on what never required any to begin with.  Witnessing the way those songbirds were unaffected by this other world, I was reminded that the living world is always there, even when I am seemingly not there with it.

Thought can be like a pause in between the seeing and the singing, an interruption that removes us from the continuity of what arises.  This is all that is unnatural, the only thing- to hold seeing and singing apart from one another by the arbitrary distance of a thought, a cloying uncertainty.  The question of how to return to the promised land is one that begs for answers, for thoughts, for a measured approach.

I am reminded of the famous line about living like birds of the field…  I’m not thinking we can “learn” to do that.  We can’t learn to be who we are.  We can’t hope to unify seeing and singing while maintaining a passport control station between these two most natural facets of being.  The birds have offered a welcome recovery.  They are happy to show us the way.  This realization expands through time in both directions, reaches backwards through the darkness, correcting the misperceptions of personal history and misguided concerns about a tragic future.  When the process is complete, we’ll be resting in the cover of leaf and shadow, dappled by afternoon sun, hearing and seeing and knowing and chirping all at once.  Like happens here.  It is simple.  The living world is always there, singing…

13 Comments

  1. Michael,
    So tender this awakening to the love in the birds’ songs showing of the way – you brought to my mind Maren’s share of the bluebird trapped in Bukowski’s heart. http://seeingm.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/she-speaks-of-love/
    The contrast of the ease of flow to the curdling of the siren-filled matrix brings this shift in perception to perfect clarity for me, such words and such eyes and ears you have! (I hear a bit of Red-Riding Hood – the better to see and hear you with, my dear:) I love the eyes and ears that know the birds’ homing device stretches out backward and forward – such a perfect use of time travel beaconing/beckoning. may all your todays be filled with such songs! m

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    • Marga, that link was great. Just the way that poem was read was really powerful. The bluebird reference made me immediately think of the movie K-PAX, and then somewhere along the way today I recalled reading your response on your own site and suddenly I was in a quantum conundrum, smiling in two places at once– also realizing dimly that I had brought up K-PAX once before, but couldn’t quite place where. You have a great memory. Enjoy your ride on the light beam!

      Time travel is such fun!

      Michael

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    • Thanks, Laura. Ihsan’s writing is wonderful. One of my favorite way points! I’m glad you found your way here! Peace to you as well.

      Michael

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    • Thanks, Brad. The whole two levels of living seems to be a recurring theme. It’s a big theme in the Course of Love as well. It is reassuring to at least be conscious of the time I spend in each world! Yes, keep singing!

      Michael

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      • Sing on and notice even when we’re off key/ course!

        You often refer to the Course of Love. Years ago I read a Course in Miracles, and currently am reading A Disappearing Universe. Do you recommend A Course of Love? Even if I haven’t really studied the CIM?

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        • The beauty of A Course of Love is that it is not meant to be studied, just read and felt the way a brownie sundae is meant to be eaten and absorbed. There is no prerequisite, and if you have read the Course in Miracles you will fall right into it. I loved it. I would recommend it. I found it to be really beautiful.

          Excerpts never hurt, right? To see if you are drawn to it?

          http://www.courseoflove.com/bookone_exerpts.shtml

          Michael

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  2. I really liked reading this piece Michael. It was somewhat different, but I mean in a good way, you write beautifully and very poetic. It was inspiring to read and made me think many many thoughts. I need some time to reflect on this beautiful piece. Thank you Michael for inspiring me! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Line. It made me think many many thoughts trying to get it out onto paper. (I wonder how long the world will keep that particular expression in circulation!? …on paper…)

      Your poem today was inspiring to me as well. The flowerings blooming from poverty. It feels like one world (of our ability to Love) can somehow grow in strength from the experiences gained in the other (where we stumble through our suffering)…

      Michael

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  3. Oh sweet presence, sweet seeing, sweet listening, sweet clarity. Once again thank you. I think you are my Rumi, reminding me of all I know, but need to remember.
    Each morning I awake a 5am. I could say I’m awoken by the dawn chorus, but really it’s more like the dawn raucous. I put in ear plugs and go bad to sleep. Tomorrow and the next day (when I have to get up at 5am anyway) I will lie still and listen/become the soundscape until I fall back to sleep, or feel ready to get up. – Alison

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    • The dawn raucous. I know it well. Last weekend there was a catbird scratching away at the air just below the window somewhere. That’s a hard one to sleep through! Somehow I managed… 🙂

      Thank you for your sweet words. Somehow your being reminded amplifies this whole process. I feel like we are reminding each other. Words given and words received are equally necessary elements of the equation, like singing and seeing being one… So… thank you…

      Michael

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