When Women Were Birds

Heaven and Earth by Catrin Welz-Stein via RedBubble
Heaven and Earth by Catrin Welz-Stein via RedBubble

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” – Terry Tempest Williams from “When Women Were Birds”

Singing at dawn; Singing at Dusk

The rain that started night before last, continues. The desert is thirsty for all this water, so despite my challenges with the drear, I am glad to see us get a good soaking.

However, I miss the birds. I miss them swooping into the yard to discover the bowl of water under my orange tree. I miss their clatter as they drink and bathe. They’ve holed up wherever it is that they hide when it storms. Instead of hearing bird chatter in the yard, I hear rain on the roof. I do love that sound. It’s like thousands of tiny hoof beats thundering toward the sky. But, still, I miss the pebbly cacophony of the wrens and grackles and doves.


What does it mean to ‘sing at dawn and sing at dusk,’ like Tempest-Williams writes? What does it do to us if we forget to celebrate the small moments of our lives?

The news might have me believe that there’s nothing worth celebrating. Civil unrest, constant war, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, poverty, corruption, greed. The list of wrongs is a long one. However, if we remain focused only on that, we miss all the moments of grace we experience, the moments of surprise, of remembrance, of love.

And, I for one, don’t want to miss those.


“Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony.”  ~ Lou Reed

I spent a lot of time during the first half of my life looking for the stuff that wasn’t here. I found myself lamenting what hadn’t showed up yet. Somehow, I bought into the idea that my life needed to match some picture I saw in a magazine. If it didn’t, I had failed. For a long time, I truly wondered what was wrong with me. I asked myself that question over and over. Why can’t I get my shit together? Why am I still alone? Why can’t I find love? What is it about me that is so repellent, so awful, that even the simplest of joys – companionship – eludes me?

Now, I know that nothing was wrong with me, ever. I was born absolutely flawed and absolutely perfect. No one forgot to put some of the pieces in my box. No one left off a part of the instructions for life or sent them to me written in Sanskrit. No one sent me the map to Mars, while others got one for planet earth.

What was wrong in those days were the questions I asked myself. I created lack where there was none simply by focusing on what wasn’t there.

“It’s your mind that creates the world.” ~ Buddha

I see the universe now as a sort of ‘wish-granting jewel.’ However, I understand, that it is my thoughts, deeds and actions that activate or deactivate that apparatus. I believe in the Buddhist notion that ‘no prayer of a votary of the Lotus Sutra, goes unanswered.’ However, I also understand that no is a perfectly legitimate answer from time to time.  As is, yes. I also believe that the universe is a benevolent place. It is kinder and simpler and more graceful that we typically imagine. I feel certain there are many luminous beings (my angels, guides, protectors) who watch my back. Every. Single. Day. Whatever I need, they provide.

That doesn’t mean that every material thing I want shows up. But certainly, it does mean that whatever I celebrate, whatever I am grateful for, whatever I root in my life and water, definitely shows up.

So, celebrate the fact that you woke up today. Celebrate a good cup of coffee. Celebrate the person — the beautiful stranger — you are growing curious about. Celebrate the food piled on your table. Celebrate having enough blankets for your bed. Celebrate running water, hot water, access to a shower. Many people in the world don’t have any of the things on this list, and they are still here, still striving, still open to the possibility that life can be, and is, good.

“I wish you a wrestling match with your creative muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria and out of it make fine stories – which finally means – may you be in love for the next 20,000 days.  And out of that love, remake the world.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Love. Madness. Foolishness. Grace. Gratitude.

Let’s remember to sing at dawn and sing at dusk.  Let’s remake the world.

© 2013  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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