I see her out the kitchen window nestled upon the pine straw. She is grey and soft with a hint of purple iridescence on her wing. It shimmers like mermaid scales in the falling rain. The mourning dove sits in pure stillness. And for that moment, she is our one focus of attention in this great big world.
My son in the nearby bay window alarms, “Mama, is that bird dead? No… wait. I just saw her blink!”
The grey, cool and rainy fall Saturday envelopes her. At first, I feel my trust in her. She is there, steady and still. As is my being in its empty and open. Simply present.
But then, “What if she is hurt?” John says.
Doubt quickly creeps in.
Is she there out of choice?
Is she actually injured?
My heart tightens and my throat grabs. I feel spiral and spin begin in my thoughts and chest for the maybe-possibly-could be suffering of this little being.
My kids spit out words of wound pitch and race car speed,
“She’s lifting her wing like it’s hurt!”
“She’s trying to fly!”
Panic builds in their soft hearts. I can hear the climbing of their voices and the thinning of their tone in partnership with the depth of their worry.
“Let’s get something to cover her in this rain.” I say to my husband. I want to do something – anything – to alleviate this little one’s suffering.
Thoughts abound, “Should I call someone? Should we touch her? Will she try to get away if we go out to put a cover over her?”
The spin the spin the spin.
The turning and looking this way, that way, under, over, and all around for the right choice in the face of suffering.
I come out of my trance of wonder to focus on her again. I watch her lift a single wing. The tip stretches as far away from the soft mound of her body as possible. A gentle lean to the opposite side as she allows gravity to assist in her dance of counterbalance.
Her motion is Long. Slow. Spacious. Big. Beautiful. Gracious.
I feel a mix of sadness for her. Awe of her. Curiosity for her.
And then a gentle tap on my shoulder from my husband. He hands me his phone.
“Mourning doves sunbathe or rainbathe by lying on the ground or on a flat tree limb, leaning over, stretching one wing, and keeping this posture for up to twenty minutes.” (Wikipedia, 10/28/2019)
Ah – well, how interesting. How interesting is my initial trust in her. How interesting is my then crashing concern for her perfect instinct. How interesting is my desire to change and to fix that which I did not understand.
But she knew. She knew how to broaden, widen, cleanse and Be.
She was simply living her nature.
Just as I was living mine.
She is my teacher. I am her student.
Compassion for my child’s mind.
Compassion for my human mind.
Deep and big love for us both.
This Thursday, November 14th at 6:30pm, I’ll join my dear friend Susan Jackson and a small group of students to explore what compassion means for each of us – including the sometimes (or often) quandry of self-compassion. We would love to have you join this intimate and authentic gathering either in-person or by Zoom. RSVP to me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com and I will send you details.
Stretch your wing over there. I’ll do the same over here,