The recent events in Charlottesville and around the world have left me in a stew of emotions: anger, sadness, uneasiness, and pain. Kicked in the stomach. The world seems to be an ever growing darker place.
Recently large black crows have been scavenging in my back garden. I don’t like to see their presence. They represent doom, death, loss, anguish. These carrion birds are unsettling for us. Although they have their place in the natural world and the order of things, they have come to represent death, anguish, and uneasiness.
Their numbers seem to be increasing. I watch birds in my back garden. The crows and the ravens are on the rise. Buzzards too. It doesn’t make me feel any better. The natural world seems to reflect our human microcosm. The scavengers are on the rise.
Yesterday a 17-year-old boy was killed in a car accident. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I’m trying to wrap my head around why such things happen. We can perhaps say goodbye to someone that is older or has battled a long illness. We don’t understand it when a life is snuffed out, taken too short. Whether it be a 17-year-old boy in a car accident, or a young woman killed while standing up for goodness and truthit reminds us of the crows and the ravens. The unspeakable surrealness of life.
This morning I looked out on my back garden as I sipped my morning coffee. The crows were there, scratching and pawing at the ground. They won’t come up near my house where there are bird feeders and a bird bath. They lurk away from every other bird.
As I was sipping my coffee, still trying to process so much from last night and the last few days, I witnessed something extraordinary. A family of cardinals flew in to graze at the feeders and drink from the bird bath. Mother, father, and three little babies. Babies that are old enough to fly and feed on their own at the feeders but are still under the watchful protection of their parents. Youth making its feeble flight out into the world.
Cardinals are said to be a sign that a loved one is near you. Their bright scarlet plumage is cheerful and reassuring. Unlike the uneasiness of the carrion birds, the cardinal is there to let you know, to quote Bob Marley, “that everything is going to be alright.” It might not be better immediately, but their presence reminds you that someone is watching over us. Loves us. Protects us. Reassures us. Cardinals represent the good forces of the world.
This morning I watched as the cardinals came to feed and bring up their young, the carrion birds lurking in the shadows flew away. A coincidence maybe. But I rather like to think that in the presence of goodness, darkness flees. In the presence of reassurance, doubt and darkness can’t stand to be there.
Sometimes three little birds of goodness, younglings taking flight remind us in the midst of chaos, death, and despair, that everything is not lost. Like those little birds, for every carrion bird that signals death and destruction, little scarlet birds take flight. Good will rise up to meet darkness and despair. Hope is ever present, even in the smallest of places.
Long live the cardinals.