Right now, at midday on this placid Labor Day weekend Sunday, I am looking out from the back deck onto this. Sir Galahad, my 33 year-old horse, has finished his mid-morning nap and is back out, grazing in his field. And all around us, visible and chatty to us but unseen in the photograph, are flights of swallows. They are today's teachers, advisors, entertainers.
A flight of swallows is the collective noun, as is a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese. All around me for the past few days are flights of violet-green swallows, barn swallows, tree swallows. The barn swallows that come each year to build their nests and raise their babies on top of the fluorescent lights in the barn have been joined by other barn swallows. Each year the swallows gather in flights, dive-bombing the cats and chasing each other about in the air, eating bugs in preparation for their migration. They become my teachers for this period.
But I'm not going to relay facts about swallows, or even copy any of the many poems I wrote about them in the past two years of writing Into the All Empty. Suffice it to say they feature prominently among a host of other feathered friends. At this moment there are hundreds of them flying and chattering, as a red and blue light plane flies overhead, one of several small aircraft that populate the skies over me on the weekends in fair weather.
The swallows teach me that uncertainty, movement, change, and the urge for going can be beautiful, graceful, natural, effortless, and fun. They show me that you don't have to take anything with you except your joy in being alive, your energy, and your natural instincts. They demonstrate that community is important, and that community shows up when it's time. Playfulness is an obvious part of their preparation for a journey of thousands of miles, along with gathering, self-expression, and eating whatever food they encounter in the sky. The are flying madly about partly because it feels lovely, partly to feed up for the journey, partly to gather together, partly to pair up, and partly to get in top shape for the long flight ahead.
What are they saying to each other? I always wonder what birds say to each other. What do you think?
In a half hour I'll be preparing to fly myself, in a remote shamanic journey for a client. I never know who my helpers might be for the work. Perhaps a swallow, or a flight of swallows, will show up to guide me to a lost soul part, or take away a thread of energy that does not belong to my client, or bring some energetic gift that is needed. Whomever I work with today, the swallows have helped me find that place of detachment, of lightness, and openness to simply be, that is required for the work. The wind chimes softly play a note here and there on the breeze. A few cottonwood seeds drift over the house from the woods. In each moment we can connect with the field of all possibilities, the invisible that creates the visible, whatever we need. This is where the work happens, where we know, and receive. This magical anything can happen feeling is pervasive this weekend. I hope it's surrounding you wherever you may be.