THE HEART’S MURMUR…MURMURATION OF THE COLLECTIVE HEART…ON THIS PLANET…
About Birds...and other matters...and remembering Loren Eiseley
As I watch the news, I reflect upon the role Twitter is playing in the shaping of world events, I remember the news images of the hotel bombing in India ...the images of flocks of birds flying back and forth in front of the cameras...the bombed hotel in the background. It was reported that Twitter posts played the first alert role regarding that tragedy too.
Today, look on YouTube and consider the sweeping dances of the starlings--their "murmurations." And think about Eiseley's story of birds, a story which seems to say that even under brooding shadow and countering any prediction of doom, one voice after another lifts to remind us that a new world is being built within the hearts of people all over the world. These singers of life, while listening to the lovely promptings from the deep within, and laboring to prove the validity of their cries through the study of sciences, systems theories, and a profound spiritual awakening, are swelling in number as the chorus begins to resound throughout. With such a gathering of voices, if, as many physicists say, the world is truly built on sound, then a new and better world is about to be born. It is our hope that our efforts here will blend into the swelling chorus of those "singers of life."
This story comes to us from the journals of that keen observer and faithful chronicler of our long evolutionary journey, Loren Eiseley, as he wrote in his most poignant The Immense Journey about the songbirds' protest in the face of imminent danger. He called it "the judgment of the birds"...
Here below are his words:
"I have said that I saw a judgment upon life, and that it was not passed by men. Those who stare at birds in cages or who test minds by their closeness to our own may not care for it. It comes from far away out of my past, in a place of pouring waters and green leaves. I shall never see an episode like it again if I live to be a hundred, nor do I think that one man in a million has ever seen it, because man is an intruder into such silences. The light must be right, and the observer must remain unseen. No Man sets up such an experiment. What he sees, he sees by chance.
You may put it that I had come over a mountain, that I had slogged through fern and pine needles for half a long day, and that on the edge of a little glade with one long, crooked branch extending across it, I had sat down to rest with my back against a stump. Through accident I was concealed from the glade, although I could see into it perfectly.
The sun was warm there, and the murmurs of forest life blurred softly away into my sleep. When I awoke, dimly aware of some commotion and outcry in the clearing, the light was slanting down through the pines in such a way that the glade was lit like some vast cathedral. I could see the dust motes of wood pollen in the long shaft of light, and there on the extended branch sat an enormous raven with a red and squirming nestling in his beak.
The sound that awoke me was the outraged cries of the nestling's parents, who flew helplessly in circles about the clearing. The sleek black monster was indifferent to them. He gulped, whetted his beak on the dead branch a moment and sat still. Up to that point the little tragedy had followed the usual pattern. But suddenly, out of all that area of woodland, a soft sound of complaint began to rise. Into the glade fluttered small birds of half a dozen varieties, drawn by the anguished outcries of the tiny parents.
No one dared to attack the raven. But they cried there in some instinctive common misery, the bereaved and the unbereaved. The glade filled with their soft rustling and their cries. They fluttered as though to point their wings at the murderer. There was a dim intangible ethic he had violated, that they knew. He was a bird of death.
And he, the murderer, the black bird at the heart of life, sat on there, glistening in the common light, formidable, unmoving, unperturbed, untouchable.
The sighing died. It was then that I saw the judgment. It was the judgment of life against death. I will never see it again so forcefully presented. I will never hear it again in notes so tragically prolonged. For in the midst of protest, they forgot the violence. There, in that clearing, the crystal note of a song sparrow lifted hesitantly in the hush. And finally, after painfully fluttering, another took the song, and then another the song passing from one bird to another, doubtfully at first, as though some evil thing were being slowly forgotten. Til suddenly they took heart and sang from many throats joyously together as birds are known to sing. They sang because life is sweet and sunlight beautiful. They sang under the brooding shadow of the raven. In simple truth they had forgotten the raven, for they were the singers of life, and not of death. (Loren Eiseley in The Immense Journey, 1946)