If we pay attention, life itself presents us with an infinite number of things to help wake us up from the stupor we may have fallen into.
Last week, while driving through town, I noticed a sight that was both tragically sad and enlightening. A mourning dove was frantically circling the lifeless body of it’s mate.
An elderly couple, out for a walk stopped for a few seconds and then moved on. Perhaps loss had accompanied them many times, so that what they saw was nothing new.
I stayed, unable to go, wondering why death had to assert itself and disrupt the tranquility of my day.
I came to see that I was witness to a profound event; one that was capable of ripping open the stale fabric of everyday artificiality to reveal the true nature of things.
The Buddhists tell us that we want arrival, but detest change and departure.
Impermanence and change seem to be the only constants, even as we wish to impose permanence, stability and continuity by surrounding ourselves with photographs, memory boxes, store bought trinkets and other unnecessary accumulations.
I could not shake the strange sadness as the dove looked into my eyes as if to say, “ Do something.” This was not the first time that I have seen this look. What was it trying to say? Did it feel sadness? Was it grieving for a loss that few would notice or care about?
An old legend says that doves sing their sad cooing song for all that we have lost. Taking his cue from this story, the British poet Shelley would write that the dove, is “the sad prophetess of sorrows not her own.”
At that moment, when the hum of the engine was not heard, I noticed that the dove was not cooing. It was silent.
I would like to believe that what arrived that day was a gift of kismet. The silence echoed that life must be celebrated, even as it must be mourned.
Perhaps this was what the elderly couple had come to know so well, together.