Blessed by a Bird
Driven by ridiculously powerful people-pleasing when first sober, I was committed to becoming the best little sober person on Planet Earth. Early on in my program, I took the Dictates Seriously, diving into their form without much introspection or thought.
A bird taught me differently.
Buzz the Bird came to me in a dream during my early days in the ashram. She came again in meditation, and then, again and again, wanting to move in. Finally, I surrendered and found her, a baby, feathered and soft, at the pet store; I named her Buzz. A cockatiel, she moved into my tiny ashram room, full-fledged and full-feathered a roommate.
Clearly, she was smarter than I.
We had many an ashram adventure, she and I, walking through the halls of the then-less-corporate Kripalu, chanting om at every meeting I attended, encountering the guru on the back stairwell—avian was less impressed with the enlighten master than one might imagine.
Early in her life, which was early in both my ashram life and my sobriety, I decided to cut her flight feathers, saving us the hassle of going to the vet every few months. A friend showed me how to do it—an easy procedure, indeed.
Snip, snip, no problem.
Except there was.
I cut her feathers easily. All seemed good.
Then she stretched her wing, and blood splattered on the wall.
An urgent trip to the vet followed. She was cauterized and sent home with instructions—keep her warm, we’ll see how she is in the morning.
SEE HOW SHE IS IN THE MORNING!
An unthinkable veterinary sendoff.
I spent hours on the bathroom floor that night, not wanting to disturb my injured companion. Twelve Step program warned me against praying for what I wanted. Committed to that spiritual principle with earnest rigidity, I endlessly repeated, Your will not mine be done.
I said it a thousand times, with tears and snot and more tears, and a whole lot more snot.
I was doing It Right, praying without preference.
It felt terrible.
I felt terrible.
Hours later, Buzz entered my heart more deeply, her adorable and fluffy feathers, her orange spots/permanent/rouge-for-life, her funny little wiggle/walk, her fantastic, full vocabulary of Pretty Bird.
It dawned on me—it flooded through me.
I have a preference.
And my preference came streaming out:
If it be your will,
Let Buzzie be okay.
And give me the willingness
To be present
Whatever you give me!
It was a radical and “wrong” prayer, but it felt so right, so true; it just clicked into truth inside of me.
Of course, I have a preference! That was a profound revelation, to allow myself to feel that, to remember that, to accept it, and to repeat that inside my heart.
Then, most importantly, to surrender, to ask for the guidance and help to be present with whatever unfolded.
It was a massive left turn in my prayer life.
I finally fell asleep on a friend’s floor, all for fear of disturbing the avian-healing-process, in the room that was now 86 degrees.
The morning came.
I found my way to her cage, cautiously peeled away the four blankets that covered her cage.
I was greeted with the most wonderful morning blessing:
Buzz lived on and on for many happy and shared years, after her intervention in my prayer life. This was only one of many, many lessons she offered me.
She taught me so much; this particular, avian-inspired lesson about preference created a deepening and a shifting in my understanding of prayer.
OF COURSE, WE HAVE PREFERENCES.
How could we not? We are human.
I know the Zen Koan that says:
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
I hear this truth, yet I recognize that is way above my payroll grade.
I am just not there yet.
I want what I want. That’s my humanity speaking. Yet, to offer it up, to surrender to reality, to ask for help and support being present, no matter what happens—that’s the prayer that I need;
Honoring my humanity.
Respecting my human attachments.
Acknowledging and accepting my feelings.
And ultimately surrendering to what happens.
Thanks, Buzzie. I do miss you so.
Dear Friends, please enjoy this blog. I am headed out on vacation in mere moments. You will not be receiving a blog on Sunday the 24th. I’ll be back on the airwaves the last Sunday of the month.
May you be healthy,
May you be happy.
May you ride the waves
Of your life.
May you live in peace,
No matter what
You are given.