Sometimes, the greatest gifts we can give ourselves are free, yet come with such a ‘perceived’ cost.
While this isn’t the actual red-winged blackbird I saw as I was leaving Boyd’s Big Tree Preserve this morning, it just felt right to lead this post with an image of this majestic messenger, even if I wasn’t the one to capture it.
When I was abruptly awoken before sunrise this morning to the terrified cries of two boys who experienced seemingly simultaneous nightmares, I did my best to drag my still-depleted butt out of bed to soothe them. Soon after they forgot about the frightful way in which they (and I) awoke, the teasing, testing, pushing and trying that set the tone of yesterday reared its ugly head in full-force for another round. “UGH,” I thought. “I can’t take another day of this.”
Quickly, I made an attempt to offer some alternative solutions to pushing each other’s buttons while watching Tanked (which, by the way, is an awesomely-inspirational fantastically-funny show). I took my coffee out on the deck and gave the boys the opportunity to join me in some sandbox play. OK, really, I told them they had to play outside. I told them this because I was irritated and I wanted to be outside. I wanted to be outside because outside soothes my nerves and calms my soul. I wanted that to happen for them too. Predictably, that was not the case.
After a few more minutes of me being resentful and crabby about their apparent disregard for my emotional needs, I had a moment of clarity. “I am going for a long, LONG walk,” I exclaimed as my husband swooped in to grab the baton and find his own way of diverting the attention of the whining brothers.
Before I could allow myself the luxury (notice the perceived cost) of taking myself to the woods, I sorted the laundry (to somehow prove I was worthy of such a trip). As I did, I noticed myself becoming irritated with my husband who, at this point just wanted to hug me and show his support. I, however, had somehow slipped into an unseen hole of old wounded-ness that left me feeling like he was judging my need to ‘flee.’ This, he quickly recognized, validated for what it was, and helped me to move on from. (Thank you, Garth!)
I could go on and on and, yes, ON, about wonder I experienced during my brief but blessed time in the trees; the black-throated blue warbler, the indigo bunting, the dog named Dharma that kept taking my walking stick, etc. And while each encounter possessed a magical quality all its own, it was upon leaving on the note of Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Blackbird that the fullness of each encounter became clear to me.
Driving slowly down the gravel road, I gave a silent prayer of thanks to Mother Nature for creating such a space for me to come and receive her blessing. Indeed, throughout my walk in the woods, I kept hearing over and over “receive the blessing.” And so I did, and in many different spots along the way I stopped, broke trail, sat in the creek, to receive…the…blessing.
Approaching the second to last birdhouse, all of which had been occupied by the various blue-in-hue birds on the way to the forest, I noticed a blackbird perched. How lovely, that he should accompany the tune I was singing. I knew it would be a red-wing, just knew it would. And then, as it took flight, and I saw it’s gorgeous wings against the backdrop of a clear blue sky boasting a visible half-moon, I waved and said “I knew that was you!”
The red-winged blackbird has always held for me such a strong mother energy, and deep connection to Mother Nature. Since it was all-things-mothering I was contemplating and receiving on my trip, it seemed a beautiful conclusion to my time there. I am so grateful for the blessing the mother (divine/earth/nature/human) offers so selflessly, expecting nothing in return, save that the blessing lives as you, and is shared, as your life, with others, and in kind.
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