Friday, February 13, 2015

The Racing Pigeon - Bearing Witness to Freedom and Forgiveness

Audio link to this story is HERE

"Dawn, you are freeing me. You are freeing me in a way 
that is more important than all the freedoms found on Earth."

These are the words I heard as I held a pigeon. This wasn't just any pigeon.

In early September, I sat outside watching the morning fog and noticed a down feather float to earth. "Bearing witness" came to mind as I was the only human to see this feather fall.

“Bearing witness" crossed my mind at sunset the day prior as a lone wren hopped in and out of the lattice around the arbor.  In my small Nashville backyard, I bear witness regularly to Nature's wonders.

This particular fall morning, I found a cicada wing on the steps I walk daily to get to my chair. I love cicadas so I picked up the wing. As I did light reflected in a dew drop reminiscent of a many faceted diamond in the beautiful web of the wing. I had just read the day prior of cicadas representing past life connections.

I held the cicada wing and watched the fog as the feather fell in that sacred moment. Bearing witness took precedence over what I had planned. 

In moments like this time deepens. After a few minutes of what seemed like forever, I walked to the front of the house and noticed something in the the street. 

Lately when on the interstate, I'm relieved to see that what I think are animal remains are actually cardboard boxes and what I fear are bird remains are frayed tire pieces. 

This particular morning I hoped I was seeing trash in the middle of Natchez Trace but I wasn't.  I hurriedly got a shovel and scooped up a beautiful bird bigger than a dove and colored similar to a pigeon. I had never seen a pigeon this close. Its legs and claws were large and strong.

A green tag with lettering on one of its legs caught my eye.

Immediately, I called someone I know at Tennessee’s Wildlife Resources Agency and learned I had found someone's racing pigeon.

"Why would anyone race a pigeon? I just don't get it” was all I could say to the woman on the other end of the call. 

Silence hung between us. 

I don't understand why people race animals. In my anger, I want to shout, "Get out and race yourself and if you can't do that, find a way to race through a video game. Stop using animals to satisfy your needs for competition and your personal lack of potency!”

Yet I felt a sense of urgency. If this were my bird, I would want to be notified of its death. Without a second thought, I found the racing pigeon website to which the woman had referred me.  I could plug in the tag number and find the owner.  I felt a strange and sudden relief to see the tag was broken and missing its numbers.

I couldn't reunite the bird with its owner. In that moment this was more than okay. The birds do not have owners. Intuitively I knew the racing pigeon was exactly where it was suppose to be.

I never gave thought to pigeons until I was drawn to a model of a clay passenger pigeon in a gift catalogue a few years ago. Cher Ami was responsible for saving the Lost 77th battalion of 194 men in WWI. Shot through her breast by the Germans and blinded in one eye, she flew behind enemy lines with her life-saving message in a canister attached to her leg. Profound awe still fills me as I consider the tenacity and courage of this bird. 

Just prior to the encounter on my street, I noticed a reference on my calendar to the date September 1  honoring the death of the last known passenger pigeon.  Did you know it is estimated that when white man arrived on this continent there were 3-5 billion passenger pigeons that filled the skies.  America was heaven on earth and the pigeons of course were shot and clubbed. Now scientists are trying to recreate them. Why? So more people can race, hunt and kill them for food and feathers or for messaging in case satellites go down? 

It was no accident I found this pigeon and it found me. I felt like its midwife and mother.  In a moment of grace, my tears of sorrow became tears of joy as I honored this dear bird here in my heaven on Earth. I couldn't think of a more beautiful stopover on its way back to the stars.

I stroked its head and breast and wondered if its owner cherished it as much as I did. Was it loved for its being or was it loved for the joy it brought its owner when it won, if it won? Was it a possession or a companion? 

This divine creation’s kin saved men behind enemy lines yet men have often been its enemy. 

As I held the beautiful body of the racing pigeon, I thanked all pigeons for coming to Earth and asked this particular one to return only if it could do so freely with joy.  I asked that its kin help it find its way home to the stars and I acknowledged my neglect of the animals until late in life. For this I asked forgiveness.

That’s when I heard:
"Dawn, you are freeing me. You are freeing me in a way 
that is more important than all the freedoms found on Earth."

Freedom is a tricky thing. We fight over “freedoms” yet fighting implies we are more afraid than free. 

Even in that moment I was shown how I was not entirely free because I was judging of humankind and of the owner. 

In that moment, the racing pigeon freed me.  

I felt myself honor the relationship it had with its owner and realized this bird quite possibly enjoyed racing. I sent a message of love through the Nashville skies to its owner in hopes he or she would know the racing pigeon had been found and cared for lovingly.  

Even as I read this story five months after it occurred and see: 

"Dawn, you are freeing me. You are freeing me in a way 
that is more important than all the freedoms found on Earth."

I am made aware of another level to the racing pigeon’s message to me. When you and I can hold those judged evil in our society in great compassion and forgiveness,we are just possibly freeing their souls karmically from a least some of their deeds so they don’t have to live with the trauma that caused their deeds to begin with. 

I looked around my small yard. On this cloudy day, the private, dark corner where no one treads would be this bird's resting place. Its body might be nourishment for an opossum though I had not seen one in our yard in two years. I smudged the area with sage and made a bed of fern fronds and clipped Earth’s gifts zinnias, rosemary, and lavender to place over its body.

I returned to my chair to sit with everything that happened over the last half hour.

A moment later, Sun's rays confirmed I had placed the pigeon in the perfect space as light streamed through brightly on that very spot. Then out of the corner of my eye, a fern moved. An opossum ambled among the ferns and hosta leaves. I had been hurriedly making notes in my journal but went inside to use my laptop.
When I returned, all that remained of the racing pigeon were five feathers where it had lain. 

This deep time holds the intersecting of multiple times and lives. The events of these times are like the dew-drop diamond in the web of the cicada’s wing, multifaceted. When we are willing to bear witness and be open to listening with awareness to these events, clarity often arrives.  More importantly when we do this from our hearts, Love and Forgiveness arrive. 

We, like the racing pigeon, volunteer to come and experience Earth. We have the opportunity to engage sacred moments and remember, if we are willing, who we more fully are.

I encourage you to allow bearing witness to take precedence in your life for it is vital that we send out love and forgiveness through prayer or meditation to our world.  Nothing is more important than holding a vibration of love in these times.

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 13 February 2015

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