Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Heron Story--Part Four

In my recent travels, I’ve discovered some truly sacred places…places where the spirit of Mother Earth is so strong that even the most mystically-challenged could not help but feel her. A windy rainswept beach. A forest of gnarled, centuries-old trees. Given the time and the resources, I would have flown to one of those places. The desire to do so was almost overwhelming. But with our battle declared “over,” it would hardly have done to pack my bags and drive off alone. The option open to me was the trail on the dike five minutes away. So that is where I went.

“I’m going for a walk.” I flung this information over my shoulder to the husband—comfortably ensconced in front of the television—as I grabbed my keys and headed out the front door. Moments later, I was climbing out of the van and up the short hill to that familiar trail. I was almost disappointed that I was not immediately greeted by the four eagles I had met on that magical Sunday morning a year ago.

Absent such a blatant show of support from Mother Earth, I abandoned my characteristically purposeful stride and just ambled down the trail. The questions that I had wisely set aside for a time when I should be stronger and less prone to flog myself with them crowded to the front of my brain and pushed more anguished tears out my eyes and down my nose. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do anything right, ever? Yes, the restaurant was a disaster…but how much lasting damage was it going to do to my life, to my heart, to my marriage? Why couldn’t I just shake it off and keep going? And why did my life partner seem to have absolutely no tolerance for my turmoil, nor take any notice at all of what I believed was my herculean effort to maintain a façade of sanity and control, while what I was and what I will now be duke it out just behind the curtain?

The beauty of the evening cast a sunset glow on my pity party, but I was not inclined to notice. I was in full demon-wrestling mode; I could have as easily been walking down a crowded aisle at Walmart. Then, ten yards ahead, a large, dark shape rose from the water, aimed toward the sinking sun, then seemed to change its mind in mid-air, just above my trail. The bird twisted and hovered, then silently sailed back into the dark depths from which it had come.

“Heron! Heron…hmmm. I guess it truly is Heron Day…”

I raised my head and looked around me. The sun had disappeared behind the hills in the west. There were no flaming clouds showing off blazing sunset finery, but the whole sky was suffused with a soft apricot glow. Now and then, a gull or a cormorant would fly by. In silhouette, they looked like something out of a coffee table photo atlas. There was no wind, and the voices of geese and cranes rose from their evening roosts. I didn’t completely abandon my pit of sorrow, but the heron encounter had pulled me up far enough to at least dimly recall why I had come here. For peace. For healing. I scraped a few slivers from the peace that surrounded me and buried them in my heart.

Quieter and calmer now, I continued on to the turning point—the osprey tower—turned and headed for home. I didn’t feel healed or renewed, just…hushed. I was done wrestling demons for the time being, but I was tired to my very bones. I let the evening sky wrap around me like a robe as I strode into the dusky orange light of the day’s end. A comforting light. A hopeful light. And once again, a heron appeared from the invisible depths of the channel to my left, made as if to head off to the fields to my right, then twisted, hovered, and disappeared back toward the water. All silhouetted against the Hollywood-worthy backdrop of the sunset sky.

A chill tingled my spine, a tiny firework went off in my brain.

“Okay. Herons. This is for me. I get it.”

Now I had to go figure out exactly what it was I got.

For anyone still interested, it looks like there will be a "Part Five"...


  1. I'm reading every entry as you post.

  2. First time reader to your blog, looks good, will be back


  3. You've been blessed. Whoa, Just had this sudden image of a larger than life heron standing beside you enfolding you in its wings. Blessings.

  4. Four herons rising up in flight, one after another, is like God saying "hey you! New life happens, you too will fly one day, just keep going and suddenly you will know how, where, when, and why! You will fly...."

    At least that is my perspective as one who has recently experienced such a turn in life....

  5. I'm still not connected to the net at my new home, but I've caught up and want more. Thinking of you.

  6. I write too, but not as magnificently as you. I doubt anybody could have written it better. I'll be back, and grateful to know there is a number 5 coming.