Egret Strikes Through

great white egret strikes at a minnow on Black Point Drive in Merrit Island Wildlife refuge

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”

– John Muir

My words have felt feeble the last several weeks. As we’ve come face to face with the plague of racial injustice and a plague called Covid, I’ve felt lost at times, disoriented and fearful. I doubt anyone has been spared of this.

Where is our song?

John Muir’s words seem a universe away from the world I’m bearing witness to in the isolation of my living room.

It’s both heavy and humbling to awaken to the discovery that the reason our song isn’t being sung is because we’ve never learned to sing it in the first place. A nation cannot stand in harmony when the screams of the past aren’t reckoned with.

It’s been our turn for as long as the native tribes and slaves who were forced upon this land can remember.

Now it’s our turn to take our seats, to ask questions and then shut our mouths and listen for the discordant harmonies of difficult answers.

It’s our turn to educate ourselves as adults with privilege so we can walk through this mess with our eyes wide open and with our ears attuned to the demands for justice and the cries for mercy.

“I can’t breath.” – George Floyd. 

Until we see clearly, none of us can breath in this crowded prison of disgusting hatred and cringe-worthy ignorance. 

The reason we do not hear the songs sung by the heart of mountains John Muir spoke of is because we’ve failed to learn the melodies in the first place.

What does it take to create a sense of urgency on behalf of fairness and decency?

It takes a bolt of pain so immense and a lynching so clearly broadcast for the world to see that our ignorance had no place to hide. Our egos can only quiver in the stark light of unveiled brutality.

We are like minnows, unaware of the sea we’ve been swimming in.

When awareness strikes, may the awakening be swift and the pain so deep that we not only hear the song: We choose to learn, and finally  SING IT.

Photo Credits:  Egret Strikes  by Susan J. Preston, Black Point Drive, Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida © 2019, all rights reserved
Technical: Fuji XT-2 | XF100-400


In the recesses of my own grief these past months my intention has been to take hold of the heavy hand of pain, trusting the despair and loneliness sitting on my front step and knocking on the door were being led by a deeper and broadening wisdom inside me. Patience is the key to opening, but like the chambers of my heart, which opens and then closes, I take in only what can be held in any given moment. 

In the vacant nooks of this liminal bookcase, my intention has been to hold the heavy hand of pain, trusting the despair and loneliness waiting on the front step are being led by a deeper and broadening wisdom inside me. A key inscribed Welcome sits on the mantle, the only key that opens the door. Like the chambers of my heart, which open and then close, I take in only what can be held in any given moment, then close. 

Where is the soundless place between the opening and closing? The liminal, in-between realm of emptiness, betwixt chapters, where up is down and no one is sure if we're coming or going? Where the pain of uncertainty wants to give way to the freedom in not knowing. 

I'm being asked to stop trying to think my way out of this place. The burdens I carry – and perhaps yours as well – were crafted in clay, which must be spirited through and felt toward. Our armored, ego-driven intellects, vaporous beliefs, and worn out stories are no match for the problems facing us. What we need are elementary kindness and humble wisdom. And we can't call them forth that without tenderly picking up the pieces of own broken hearts with a commitment to stop polarizing each shard.

Wake up! Wake the fuck up! says the wordless voice who 

The thing about deep grief, which I knew all too well with the passing of a beloved friend to suicide five years ago, is it appears for good reason. Many things that were once cherished or taken for granted are suddenly gone. To deny Grief's knocking and expect ourselves to just get over it is inhumanely incongruent with what it means to be fully human. Once I discovered I would never think my way out of the pain and learned to carry it with grace it became one of my greatest teachers. 

As I move through this time of endarkening, I'm reminded of how precious life is, no matter how difficult. Enlightenment doesn't alight upon us with fairy wings. First comes the descent into the knowledge that the keys, and the gentlest hands that hold them, lie within.  

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