The bird is an inspiring animal that symbolizes freedom and spiritual growth to some people. Some consider birds as divine messengers. Those whose lives have been enriched by birds have said that God can perform a miracle through them.
J M Barrie
I am not done with my struggles and comments on current affairs. But for now there is something else I want, or rather need, to put my energy into. I want to see what I discover travelling inwards rather than continually fretting about what I cannot change. After all, I did call my blog ‘jennie’s red book’. I don’t for a moment expect to match Jung’s brave descent into his own inner dark corners, and certainly they were very dark. That particular invitation has not been extended to me; that is to say, I am not ready to see and hear what he saw. After all, there has only been one Jung in modern times, and I hope that my angels will allow me to experience only what is ‘me-appropriate’. I have scratched away at some levels of my own inner darkness, and I believe I may be ready to dig a little deeper. But wherever I do end up going I intend to take the birds of the wild with me, while my little Coco sits close to remind me. We shall see if I am right and how far I get.
I have been duelling for many years with what I call my resistance to following leads and directions that I recognise would be beneficial for me, such as for my health, both physically and spiritually, among other things. I have always had a need to plough my own furrow, to not allow someone else to make decisions for me, and it wouldn’t be unfair to call it out for what it is – an innate stubbornness. In recent years I have developed an intimate relationship with this force that drives me. There are days when I am self-disappointed, and I ask myself what it is that causes this resistance, and why I seem not to have the will to override. Recently I listened to a talk given by a therapist that has given me another way of viewing this persistent presence in my life. Perhaps my resistance, besides holding me back, could also be something of a friend, a support and a guide. I have had difficulty in engaging with God and particularly Jesus for all my adult life even though I know I believe, and not just in my head. But I also know that my view of them is as ‘other’ than myself. Everything that I have been hearing lately is telling me to let go of all that I believe to be true. I see that my belief system is based around the dual nature of reality, and therefore I reside in a world of me and others. I have often received hints through affirmations that my body is truly a temple, and if that is an important truth then I have certainly been looking for answers in the wrong direction.
Not knowing where to look for a stepping-off stone, I shall start by digging up memories and engaging with dreams from my past and the now as they enter my conscious mind. I intend to turn them over and inside out in the hope that they will reveal clues on how to find my way, and what I am hoping is that one day I shall find an open door that leads me into the vaulted stone nave of my own inner temple, a view of myself and a building that I have seen in my mind’s eye.
The thought of finding stepping stones, or crumbs even, reminds me of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Many times over recent years I have thought about elements of this story, and the children’s attempts at remembering the path that their henpecked father led them on, ever deeper into the chaos of the unknown and dark forest in his attempt to abandon them. They knew that without their stones they would not find their way back to the safety of home ground. Perhaps my memories can serve me in the same way as I proceed on this new adventure. This fairy tale, along with two others, Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin, all of them stories from the Brothers Grimm, are the ones that caused me most distress as a child. I think this fact can tell me something of what I came into this lifetime remembering. With regard to Hansel and Gretel, I feel that what I picked up on as a small child was that the family unit could just as easily disintegrate; that there was no certainty that family endured all. I am sure I will have something to say about the other two fairy tales as when they call out to me.
My favourite two books as a small child were Magic Island, as I remember its name, and The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. Sadly I have not been able to trace Magic Island and I would love to read the story to my grandsons. I remember it clearly and now also understand it on the level that any outstanding child’s book should aspire to. What stands out to me is how it showed the way to conquer childhood fears and encouraged children to learn how to ‘slay their dragons’, but to the small child that was me, it was just magic, joy, freedom and the very best kind of adventure. As I remember it, there was a brother and sister who lived either on the coast or on a lake, and not far off was an island. They were told that a dragon lived on the island and that it was angry and dangerous, and breathed fire. One day, during their summer holidays, they found a piece of paper, and on it was written a recipe that was headed, ‘How to tame a dragon’. They decided to row out to the island, search for the ingredients which were something like various plants and a wing of a dragonfly or the feather of a falcon, and I seem to remember that one of the ingredients was very hard to find or even dangerous to collect. By this time there was a need to hurry because the dragon had become aware of their presence, but they were successful in placing a saucer of the ‘milk’ at the bottom of a hill, and watched as the dragon lapped it up. And hey presto, they were able to befriend the dragon. Their father arrived about this time to search for his missing children but ended up witnessing their bravery. Perhaps this story rings bells with someone of a similar age to me. I can see the book in my mind’s eye, and I would say its design and illustrations make me think it was published in the 1940s or 50s.
As mentioned earlier, I intend to parachute stories of birds in amongst my memories because of the joy they have brought to my life. They are playing a much needed role of keeping me grounded and I may need this service more than ever now. Through many moments spent gazing longingly up into the sky, looking for answers I suspect, it wasn’t going to take long before the antics of the birds had me hooked. I realised that I was creating a connection to the universe that was new for me. Not surprising really that birds are at the heart of the matter when we consider their deep involvement with humankind by way of archetypes, mythologies and tales throughout the ages. Birds and feathers are at the core of some of the most regularly experienced phenomena, especially when we lose a loved one. Until recently I would see a bird fly by, perched on a branch, or tweeting its beautiful songs, and perhaps even marvel at it, but now I see much deeper into their peculiar antics, communications and behaviours. It is more like ‘I see a bird who sees me’. It feels like we are engaged with each other. I am admitted into their world, as much as I have drawn them into mine.
I have witnessed house-keeping, aerobatics, acrobatics, research and development, sociability, patience, determinism, collaboration, bravery, resilience, the three Rs – rhythm, routine and ritual, the three Ps – primping, preening and protecting, inquisitiveness and joy, especially the tiny warblers and sparrows who fly gleefully everywhere they go. They are so willing to teach me a better way. It was the dove and its cousin, the pigeon, that facilitated this new connection, and of course I have recalled that Noah chose the humble dove of The Ark to fly out to find land, and can one imagine his joy when on the second attempt he returned with an olive branch, now our visual symbol of Peace. It was by way of an amazing sight given to me by luck (or not) as I snuck out of our locked down home in the north of Ibiza to take my dogs to a secret walk near us. On the way back I happened to take my eyes off the little ‘cami’ and to my right I saw a large fallow field falling away from my view. There were power lines crossing the field, and I noticed that there were hundreds of birds sitting on the wires. I then saw that all the trees surrounding the large field were vibrating with activity from hundreds more of pigeons jostling and exchanging places with others. My immediate response was ‘wow, a Pigeon Jamboree’. And so I found myself at the start of a new journey, you could say, one that is channeling my inner St Francis. From that day onwards I started to have some surprising and awesome experiences at the hands, or rather, the wings of birds.
It is only when I reread the commentary on The Water Babies that I recalled that Tom falls in awe of a young girl of a similar age called Ellie. He and Ellie, who has become a water baby herself, have regular meetings as they share experiences that are preparing them for life as better versions of themselves. I shall definitely be rereading the book again. It should be remembered that it was written by a man mid 19th Century who is grappling with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and all the extraordinary revelations of his time. It strikes me that it is full of little gems of conscious awakenings. I shall definitely be blogging my experience of rereading it.
And something of Tom? I was again gazing up at the blue sky above this morning, with not a cloud in sight, bemoaning my lack of ability to disassociate from what I see going on around me in the world when into my head popped something that has been a part of my life since I was about 22 years old. I have recalled this in my book – my remembered version of something I was told by a teacher in a lecture on transcendental meditation. Somebody up there is so patient with me! And yes, still haven’t shaken off the ‘other’ way of seeing things!
Martyrdom of Peter 9 says: “Concerning this the master says in a mystery, ‘If you do not make what is on the right like what is on the left and what is on the left like what is on the right, and what is above like what is below, and what is behind like what is before, you will not recognize the kingdom.’”
Comments on The Gospel of St Thomas, saying 22