It takes a lot to steal me away from my hammock on a clear summer’s day. But recently, my peaceful slumber was stirred by a wide-winged hawk flying through the cloudless sky. No problem. A gift really – until the hawk began to circle lower and lower. It was then I noticed the chipmunks scrambling for cover. Unwilling to witness what I thought might be a most unpleasant scenario for one of the chipmunks, I decided to go inside. My husband, hearing my dilemma, said in a quite practical yet tender tone, “Baby hawks have to eat too.”
In a matter of seconds, I could feel my exhale and a kind of calm settled in me. Of course! Baby hawks have to eat too.” It was as if the whole of creation had just been laid at my feet. We all live and are all sustained solely by the gift of life from others – our animal, plant and mineral relations. Of course! It is death that creates life.
We know this. Yet, it seems to be brought into crystal focus, if only momentarily, at the portal of birth and death, where all beginnings are endings and all endings are beginnings. It’s like we suddenly wake up to the most intrinsic nature of the sacred – like the hawks and the chipmunks, we all come in, live and exit. In the meantime, we are too often lulled back to cozy sleep. It’s why all traditions admonish us to wake up. Wake up to what? That each moment is a portal where, as Bernadette Farrell sings, in our living and our dying, we are bringing You to birth.
Portals. A few days ago I held my new grandbaby for the first time. Unexpectedly, she opened her eyes – ever so briefly. Made my breath pause as this little one held me captive with her fixed gaze as the Beloved just communed between us. And later, I recalled, as clearly as if it were yesterday, the last time I heard my grandmother’s voice. I knew she was dying so, through the phone line, I savored each tiny nuance within each word to insure each sound would stay etched in my heart forever. Rarely, have I listened with such intent. Only in the passing can we savor the eternal. Only in our living and our dying, can we birth the Beloved.
All gratitude to the hawk and chipmunks, to my grandbaby and grandmother, for bringing the Beloved to birth…in me.