I am writing today with my back door open, looking out onto my deck. My spouse started a fire in the fire pit with remnant branches from trees that have fallen in our yard this past fall and winter. The air is crisp with spring and the scent of firewood smoldering is filling my house with the comfort of nature and warmth. I sit, and breathe in this lovely afternoon and become attuned to the sound of chirping birds, harbingers of spring. Were it not for the subtle white noise of passing cars on the nearby highway, I might even forget that I am a city dweller.

Amid the chirps high and low, there is the faint cooing of a mourning dove. This, I notice most profoundly and its sound sets my mind adrift.

I have always appreciated mourning doves, and I am lulled in to their melancholy melody. Naturally tuned to a diminished key, their song pulls me into a sense of longing. This is probably where the species nickname originated, as it is easy to imagine the birds pining for a lost love, or crooning over times gone by. I love when mourning doves find my yard, and no matter where I have lived, it seems they always do.

I am empathic to the minor keys of life. I have been drawn to work with grief, depression, stigma, injustice. Like the doves, I sing what is in my nature, and yet what emerges is still melodic. There are lovely, happy tunes being whistled in the trees all around and yet, the songs of the minor key are just as beautiful. I like those happy tunes, and I whistle them in my carefree moments. But, the doves’ song is what calls to me the most. I would so much rather have that melancholy beauty than hear the squawking of a loud, belligerent crow or a mean, bellicose Blue Jay. For that, I have no patience either in my yard, or in my life. So it is that I find beauty in the quiet longing of those who grieve, in the reflections of those who reminisce, in the longings of those who struggle. Together, we can create melodies and harmonies that allow a beautiful song to emerge.

I remember during a turbulent time in my own life, two mourning doves took up residence in the bird feeder that sat on my front porch, just outside my front window. My cat would sit on the back of the sofa and her raccoon-striped tail would get larger and larger with wild instinct as she watched the birds and the squirrels at the feeder. The blue jays would squawk back at her, and the chickadees would flee. But, the mourning doves appeared unnerved, seemingly understanding that a heavy pane of glass separated their dinner from the feline’s frenzy. Whenever I saw my doves, or heard their cooing, it settled my own spirit. I felt companioned by their song, quietly reassured that they managed to fly, and eat, and maintain a sleek beauty even when their song was filled with longing. It reminded me that I was capable of the same, and that I needed to recognize and honor the beauty of the song that my spirit was singing.

Today, I hear the mourning doves as I sit in a super-productive yet highly reflective time in my life. I could easily be too busy right now to notice the doves, or to hear their soulful song. But, I am learning to value slowness, stillness, and presence. I am learning to share my song with the world exactly as I am capable of singing it in the present moment. I am honored to bring out the voice of others, or to know that my song sung to the Universe eventually drifts into someone else’s ear, exactly when and where they needed to hear it. I find that reassuring, hopeful, and beautiful. It deepens my faith, and keeps me focused on making the most of this very present, here-and-now life that I am leading.

My yard, my doves, my small points of light today.

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
This entry was posted in Lent 2014, work and life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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