This morning I pulled out a book called Feathers by David Cavagnaro & Frans Lanting.
When I came home yesterday, I saw that Bella had brought a beautiful yellow bird into the house and quite a battle had ensued. Bella was lying next to the fallen victim as though unclear why what may have been a game to her, had stopped. I took our friend outside. Bella helped in honoring the setting up a place of transformation for our still, though relatively intact, departed friend. Then, I dealt with the feathers floating around the floor. They were soft and gray with yellow on the tips. Except for the one wound, the bird might have flown.
From the book on feathers:
"Feathers serve two primary functions: thermoregulation and flight. The features of Archaeopteryx that shine forth from the limestones of Bavaria across 140 million years of time are indistinguishable from the feathers of modern birds. Theories, advanced by some, that feathers initially evolved from scales for reasons of controlling body temperature do not explain the feather's intricate microstructure. In mammals, the only other warm-blooded animals on earth, the scales of reptilian ancestors became hair, a far simpler design that serves the needs of thermoregulation just as well. No, the feather seems born to fly."
Perhaps we all dream of flight. And yet, some birds don't fly. Their feathers have lost the "hooked barbules that make normal feathers aerodynamically sound." "Nature is not wasteful. Form exists only where it is needed; design that is no longer functional and adaptive is soon cast aside."
And that leads me to the subject of connection. At times, we are so tightly connected with others, our feathered barbules so interlocked, that as a group, we are a new creation; we are led to fly. At other times, we peck on the ground, trying to understand why we are here. Perhaps we gaze upon our own navel, the place that connects us to birth. Perhaps we are given a place in life that feels safe. No predators abound. We sit in a cave. I think we are here to experience flight and non-flight, to test our wings and also let them slide.
We can tie our mind into knots and we can fly it like a kite.
We can choose to climb the knots, value or unloose the nots and better navigate, the lift of earth to sky.
"Life and death, however, are not polar opposites; they are two sides of the same reality, complimentary forces that are interdependent. Conflicts that seem to rage at times between them are merely our perception (or misperception) of thei eternal interplay. At its birth, life already contains the seeds of death, and death contains the promise of new life. In the womb of the great ocean, new ideas are always being born, the more so perhaps when there is fresh territory for their experimentation."
He goes on to write of how nature continues to "perfect is imagination." We are part of this process.
"Every tiny shift in attitude is such a seed, which has the potential of growing into a force that can actually change the way we live. The Carmelo sandstones were laid down one grain at a time, built anew by the sea from the remains of old rocks that had preceded them. In this same persistent way, every thought we hold, every action we take, contains promise for building a new age."
"No act of awareness is too small, no moment of attention too short, to be important in this process. We might each pick up a feather, for instance, the next time one falls in our path, and place it on a windowsill as a reminder that beauty and creativity are both ancient and fragile. To touch a single feather with respect is, in essence, to honor all life."
Feathers have come into my life at the most amazing times. May feathers fall, soften, and enliven your day, bring comfort to light.