Poor Will's Almanack: August 1 - 7, 2017

Aug 1, 2017

Crows are usually silent during their mating time and the time they raise their young. Now, the fledglings are almost grown, and the crows come back together in flocks, and they begin to converse near my house before sunrise.

The singing of robins and cardinals grace the spring and early summer, but as middle summer warms, the songs of those birds grow quiet. The crows, though, are the most faithful morning sky-talkers throughout the late summer, fall and winter.

Sometimes, I feel like answering them, to caw and join their society. My voice lacks their clarity, however, and I am hesitant to respond out loud to their calls.

Now some Trappist contemplatives with whom I am acquainted emphasize waiting in prayer. Their practice of lectio divina (meditative reading of sacred texts) invites inspiration, insight and  communion. The one who practices lectio quiets his or her ego and voice and listens for the voice of God.

If crows were God, and I wished communion, and if I wanted to use the lectio technique, then I would have to practice listening. I would read the seasons, and then wait in silence. I would have to open up my mind, leave ego, science and religion behind. I would have to let the message of the crows and my answer take their own form.

Zen master Dogen once noted that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and the stars.

Perhaps the mind is no other than crows, and communion not so difficult after all.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the first week of late summer. In the meantime, you might listen for crows.