Compassion is, in the most part, about a quality of listening. The jackdaw that flew past me this morning taught me more about this. I noticed that I sensed his sound with my whole body. I was so delighted to have him visit that my heart opened out to receive him. Whilst my hearing with my ears were active, it was as if my whole body became a listening organ. The ruffle of his feathers was like the rustle of silk. A distant memory came of me of being close to a birds body (perhaps as a child) and there's an ancient knowing of what the sound is of a bird in flight. I'm becoming more familiar with the different bird flight sounds too. Wood pigeons seem to make a kind of whistling noise, and the flight of my friend the dunnock is a speedy and loud thudding.
When my marriage ended some years ago I was cast out of a certain belonging. I am cultivating this quality of listening through the softening powers of grief, and the grounding effects of gratitude. Belonging begins in our own bodies, and as I reunite myself with mine I find that the veil between me and other species is being lifted. A process of re-sensitising myself.
Oh there must have been a time when this kind of listening with and for the wild things was an integral and essential part of life. I can imagine our very survival depended upon it. And I believe that it is this kind of sensitivity that is the answer to what Anne Breytenbach calls the 'separation sickness' our culture is suffering from and from which so much violence becomes possible.
So, when the wasp comes into my house I talk to him, I tell him that this is indoors and he won't find much to eat in here. Usually I use a glass to cover his body at the window and a piece of card for him to step on. In recent days, every time I have done that, the process is so calm and they step on the card, I lift the glass and they slow down too, seem to take a breath after this shock and then take flight as if off a runway. Thank you wasp, you have such an important role to play in the pollination of plants, you have a very loud buzz and I have been conditioned to think that you are dangerous. So I will slow myself right down when you enter my home, you aren't to know this is my 'dwelling'. You and your species were here long before these bricks and mortar and I will do what I can to help you on your way and to support you in your work.
The gifts of the birds flight and the wasps buzzing becomes a blessing for me and a belonging, and supports me to pull back my energy and start close in. I offer you David Whyte's poem 'Start Close In'.
I will finish with this song from Kate Rusby 'Who now will sing me lullabies'. I wonder about peace on earth today, the earth must be experiencing so much peace and quiet and rest and healing, may it be so, and may we sing her a lullaby as she receives it. Will you join me and sing her to sleep? I love you dear earth, thank you for holding me, Clare 💛