This past weekend my partner Brian and I watched the film Supernova in which Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play a longtime couple facing explosive reality with uncompromising tenderness and compassion. I highly recommend it.
A “supernova” is a powerful and luminous stellar explosion. In one poignant scene Tucci’s character explains to a young girl how we are all made of stardust. Your left ear might contain the stardust from an explosion in one galaxy, while the right is comprised of stardust from another. And the particles that are in each one of us are likely swirling around in millions of others walking the earth.
If I didn’t already believe on a very deep level that we are all connected — regardless of the color of our skin, sexual orientation or political affiliation — this scene proved the point with meteoric strength. It reminded me just how much we can learn from nature when we are willing to see with our spiritual eyes, listen with our spiritual ears and feel with our spiritual hearts.
Last week, while walking, one of the first things I noticed was a pair of Egyptian geese in the distance. I have always been intrigued by their exotic coloring, their authoritative yet mischievous manner, and their raucous way of communicating with each other. Egyptian geese also mate for life. How many humans do that?
Next, I saw a pelican fly overhead. Then a party of Muscovy ducks with their distinctive, Turkey-like red faces wobbled by. An anhinga, also known as a “snakebird,” darted under water to catch a fish. I also saw ibises of different sizes and colors — and even a beautiful blue heron.
Birds fascinate me with their lilting songs and the way they take flight. How I would love to spread my wings right now and soar to New Orleans or maybe Mykonos!
In an untitled prayer, Terry Tempest Williams says:
I pray to the birds.
I pray to the birds because I believe
they will carry the messages of my heart upward.
I pray to them because I believe in their existence,
the way their songs begin and end each day
the invocations and benedictions of earth.
I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love
rather than what I fear.
And at the end of my prayers,
they teach me how to listen.
I pray to the birds, as well. They have so much to teach us. During my walk last week, I thought about how we judge birds with so much more compassion than we do each other. Whether they have skinny legs and long beaks; or make sweet or sassy sounds; or grow feathers that may be of a different color but still fly together — we somehow see their beauty above any imperfection or annoyance. If only we could all nest and fly with each other with that same kind of acceptance.
As I passed a tree with its misshapen branches, peeling bark and bare patches, I wondered what it would be like to live in a world in which humans were as revered for their increasing age as trees are … if we were willing to save each other with as much fervor and passion.
I thought about how we can’t hug each other during this unprecedented time but that we can still hug a tree. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Everywhere we look nature has something to teach us. As I looked up in the sky at a luminous patch of gold light shining through a cloud, a thick black mist passed in front and obscured it. I thought about the light that shines in each one of us and how sometimes we just need to clear what’s clouding our vision and perception — our fear — to see it in ourselves and each other.
After Supernova ended, Brian motioned for me to join him on our sunporch. “You have to hear this,” he said.
With the full moon lighting up the small lake on which we live, there was a sound I couldn’t place at first. It was mystical. Magical. It sounded like a Gregorian chant with acoustic percussion. The notes built in crescendos that sounded like the most sublime symphony and floated over the water like a dream as they settled down.
When we realized that the cacophony of high-pitched peeps and full-throated croaks was an orchestra of frogs finding each other in the dark, we sat back in our chairs and enjoyed the show. With 31 years of history between us, and the sounds of the ages all around, it was one of those moments during which time stood still. We both could have had that be our last memory together and been perfectly at peace.
Like I said, nature can teach us so much when we are willing to see with our spiritual eyes, listen with our spiritual ears and feel with our spiritual hearts. And, perhaps best of all, it’s free and available to each one of us.