Each morning, I watch an amusing ritual through my front kitchen window. Our “squirrel proof” bird feeder hosts at least two impish squirrels before the bird population begins to feed. They leap from the nearby tree trunk or skitter down the chain that holds the feeder in place and hang rather whimsically by their back feet to reach the bottom tray of the feeder for their breakfast of black oil sunflower seeds. One morning, after a north-easter had blown through, the cap from the feeder had disappeared in the wind. On that particular day, one of my little friends pushed its head and front feet well down into the feeder tube to get at the seeds. “Squirrel proof” indeed!!
When they first began sharing the feeder with the birds I wondered if there would be any seed left to attract the cardinals and finches and chickadees that we enjoy thorough the winter. I needn’t have worried. They all seem to work out a fairly harmonious feeding pattern and there is enough to go around.
While observing the squirrels, I have also been watching the mourning doves - - ground feeders. The squirrels are either overly sloppy or overly generous. Whichever is the case, there are plenty of dropped sunflower seeds on the ground under the feeder to kept the mourning doves well fed and happy.
In the last few days following the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon Finish Line, I have felt like a mourning dove. I have been reading the newspaper accounts of the bombing, of the heroic responses, of the tragic loss of life and of the horrific road that many of the victims will travel on their way to wholeness again as they recover from their injuries. Much of the commentary has a familiar ring to it. 9/11 is not that far from memory. I read and read - - looking - - pecking around perhaps, for that particular word that will help me begin, once again, the process of making meaning of yet one more public and far reaching act of violence.
The seeds are there. Scattered randomly - - appearing in surprising and sometimes seemingly unrelated places.
On April 17, Scot Lehigh, OpEd columnist for the Boston Globe, called for a “Dream Team” of Boston’s finest minds to create a foundation that would reach into the future to assist victims of the bomb blasts - - and to improve the city of Boston for all its citizens - - a “charitable foundation dream team” – to create something that would “let us channel our concern and sympathy into something large and lasting and let us feel that we’d reclaimed Patriot’s Day and our marathon from the horrific event by responding to unspeakable individual evil with committed collective good.”
So – that was a tasty seed - - respond to unspeakable individual evil with committed collective good.
This morning, a prayer by Rabbi Stanley F. Chyet, dropped from the “feeder” – again on the OpEd page of the Globe:
We oughtn’t pray for what we’ve
Better to pray for…
The will to see and touch
The power to do good and make
After breakfast (toast and eggs –not sunflower seeds!) yet another offering appeared to further my quiet quest for meaning and understanding –this time from Rainer Maria Rilke in a collection of daily readings from his works. Titled “Survival of the Soul”, it pulls me together for another day of reflection: “What more can we accomplish now than the survival of the soul. Harm and decay are not more present than before, perhaps, only more apparent, more visible and measurable. For the harm which humanity has lived daily since the beginning cannot be increased. But there is increasing insight into humanity’s capacity for unspeakable harm, and perhaps where it leads. So much in collapse, so much seeking new ways out. Room for what new can happen.
It was the reading intended for April 15, the day of the bombings.
My seeds keep echoing the same theme - - an ancient one - - that out of chaos comes order and creativity….In the beginning when God was creating…. So a composite prayer takes shape:
May we see and know how to respond to unspeakable individual evil with committed collective good.
May we seek the will to see and touch the power to do good and make new.
May we, in the midst of collapse and seeking, make room for the new thing that may happen.
My thanks to the “feeder” for nourishing seeds dropped where I might find them.
A YEAR WITH RILKE Daily Readings from The Best of Rainer Maria Rilke translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, HarperCollins, 2009 p.105