I was over at Kim’s the other night (see previous post Living in an Art Gallery) helping to put dinner together when I looked out the window that is just over the kitchen sink. It’s where Margaret keeps her bird feeder–such a perfect place for viewing. The ground is almost flush with the base of the window so it’s as though the birds are part of the kitchen–a rather large flock of dinner guests. And on this night we were visited by a surprising number of Red-winged Blackbirds. Oh my. I love these birds.
They drop by every day and I’ve come to think of them as black-leather-jacketed street toughs–sort of birdie bad boys. I know that’s not fair. But they’re bigger than the other birds and when they arrive everybody else disappears. The smaller birds do wander back, one by one, and cautiously graze among the Blackbirds.
There is a large flock of these birds at the base of my road where it dips down and runs across a marsh–where cattails stand among fallen down log structures from long ago–a rather lush spot along my road. I’ve always loved watching them fly as I pass by, offering their shocking red patches to my day.
But to have them so close, to watch them like this, feels almost sacred.
Of course Paul McCartney’s wonderful song, Blackbird, comes to mind as I stand within this remarkable gift. Here are the lyrics:
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free
Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
I have always loved this song but I find it particularly meaningful after having faced my own dark night recently (see previous post Well, Joseph Campbell… ?). The lyric takes us into “the dead of night” and suggests that, in the depth of that dark black night, broken and confused, lies the moment we’ve been waiting for–in the depth of despair, stripped down to nothing, we find our “moment to arise.”
I have particularly loved the song’s chorus and even named a painting after it: “Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly/Into the light of the dark black night.”
Into the light of the dark black night. What a stunningly beautiful piece of writing, promising light within darkness.
I know this is not a new idea. Some Native Americans, among others, have long held that within the void, within darkness, we will learn our most powerful lessons. In fact they believe it is where all creation begins.
David Whyte writes beautifully about it in his poem Sweet Darkness: “Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet/confinement of your aloneness/to learn/anything or anyone/that does not bring you alive/is too small for you.” Wow.
Standing in this window watching Blackbirds, dinner nearly ready, I am moved to create… SOMETHING. That this moment brought me back to art is not surprising. In fact I look at it as one art form (nature) soulfully inspiring another (me/you).
Love to you all,