The Fall rains have turned the dry, pale brown woodland terrain into a sensuous emerald. I sit beneath a valley oak. The late morning sun and cool breeze cause a distant spider web to sparkle. A dozen feet to my right, a squirrel stares into the canopy.
“Phumph!” I hear a sound like a baseball hitting a pillow. I follow the squirrel’s gaze upward to what looks like a three-winged bird. He flies carefully through the branches and perches twenty feet above us. Two of the wings fold neatly as he sits up straight. The profile is that of a raptor. A third wing protrudes below his body along with a pigeon head.
The hawk holds its prey close as he looks around. A trail of tiny feathers drifts down from his flight path. The pigeon in his talons shows no hint of motion.
The hawk drops from the tree, spreads his wings and glides into the open air. He gracefully flies his kill to a distant tree. As he approaches, three pigeons dart out of the tree. They fly a straight line into the distance.
I look back at the squirrel. He is looking right at me. He is frozen perfectly still – except for a nervous tail. Then he drops into the grass and bounds away from me.
As I lose sight of him, my focus relaxes to again take in the expanse of woodland. The sunlight turns some of the oak leaves translucent green. The hush of the breeze is filled with the songs of distant birds. I find I am smiling unconsciously.
There is potential for beauty, innocence, and violence in everything. The spider that weaves the beautiful web sucks life fluids out of her prey so that she might live.
What we think about life or other beings is less important than how we relate to them. True spirituality encourages us to bring love and healing into the world when that is within our power; and when it is not, to see clearly without romanticizing or demonizing, without naïveté or cynicism so that we might embrace the world with all its grace and imperfection.