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As The Crow Flies

By Sunsue Fleming

This May marks two years since my trip to Ireland. Fifteen of us went on a ten-day pilgrimage. Many blessings are still with me from that trip. It was where I began my friendship with Shirley. It's where I fell in love with all of the black birds that are so abundant in Ireland.

Since I returned, I have been feeding black birds, talking to them. I have been watching them. Just today, after two years, I received my first trinket. It was placed in an area where I leave them food. I am thankful for their friendship.

I have always wanted to fly. Somehow crows seem to take me with them and give me room to breathe and sore and touch the sky.

A dear friend of mine who died 20 years ago wrote a poem about crows. I think of her as I read it. I think of trust between all living life.

by Elizabeth Tarbox, from Evening Tide: Meditations

I aspire to live as the crow flies.

A crow is said to fly in a straight line from point of departure to destination, but that is not what I see. Crows fly in sweeping circular arcs across the apron of the sky, using all the available space from horizon to horizon before settling on the top swaying branch of the tallest tree.

You may think crows caw, that their voices are harsh. But I tell you a crow can whisper to its mate across a density of pines, and its voice is comfortable and reassuring. A crow is mighty in its passion, voracious in its appetite, and fearless in its flight. So I aspire to live as the crow flies and stretch my soul to meet the sky.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so, so much for the reading. I felt it in my heart and gut the entire time you were reading. I’ve also been on a pilgrimage to Ireland and the gifts are amazing. The focus on blackbirds was meaningful to me. My separation from my husband was very stunning for my adult daughter. It hurt her at a deep level. About four days after we shared the news, my daughter said she had shapeshifted into a raven and flew to me and wrapped me in her wings and held me. That has been a gift for her to share that and help me. I went back to that during the meditation, and I realized that the blackness of a crow reminds me of going inward. Those adjectives from the poem, that crows have a voracious appetite and are fearless, that all came together for me. I feel the cawing as a call thanks to you blending it all together. Thank you.

  • I loved the poem you shared. I’ve thought about the saying ‘as the crow flies’ which does suggest the shortest distance. What the poem argues is no, that’s a concept we’ve put upon crows. And then I thought more broadly about The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Again, it’s a human construction put on nature. There is so much that nature is without our human constructs, that the paying attention is enormously valuable.

  • Blackbirds are one of my favorite totems, mostly because they are survivors and they are recyclers. They can take what is breaking down and making something new of it. I love the Blackbirds song by the Beatles. I thought of it as I was meditating. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for the reading. The moment you started reading I was happy and pleased. The poem was beautiful, what you said about blackbirds. I live and breathe feeling the animals all the time everywhere. Noticing the slightest things are little gifts that can stay with us if we recognize them and let them in.

  • Thank you so much. That was a beautiful reading and poem. I also have been to Ireland and I remember the vibrancy of the colors, the intense green of the grass. It’s a beautiful, spiritual place. Your writing brought me back to it. I love the idea that it’s not about taking a direct route, it’s being open to what comes and being in acceptance. Thank you.

  • Thank you for the reading. I have a positive connotation to blackbirds. Somehow as humans we have put a negative construct on a crow. I was glad to hear the positive qualities of the crow. At any time, we can see the positive in things rather than the negative things. That’s what struck me.

  • I’m curious about the trinket that was gifted to you.

  • It was an earring. When I lose an earring, I save the other one and often give it as an offering to fairies. I have fairy gardens in my yard. Fairies were another blessing from my trip to Ireland. I think the birds and fairies communicate to each other. And the blackbird picked up the earring and put it there. It was an earring of a snake with wings, and I had just seen a snake. There was a lot of magick going on there. It was a beautiful gift.

  • I was taken by the clarity of your reading and how lovely you moved from your experience in Ireland to the blackbird to the poem. It was lovely to take in. It led me to recognize what’s important in writing about something is how moved we are by it. You don’t need the direction of where you are going to go with it. I couldn’t predict where you were going. During the meditation, I reflected on what’s important to me and what I embrace, the way you embraced that experience.

  • Thank you for your sharing today and reflection. Thank you everyone for joining in and gifting yourself 15 minutes of silence in order to focus on yourself and your well-being. I hope you all have a blessed, gentle day as you go out and don’t go as the crow flies but go as the crow flies.

Photo credit: Soul Collage card made by Sunsue Fleming

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