The moonlight casts shadows in the frigid pre-dawn on Halcyon Pond. A great horned owl sings its mournful song. With each refrain it sounds more like a ghost—but whose ghost? Is it a ghost of the Native Americans who first roamed this land, leaving behind their arrowheads and pottery shards? Or the ghost of slaves brought here to work the land once it, and they, were “owned”? Or maybe it is a ghost of a conqueror, doomed to roam in purgatory for his hubris in believing that land or people can be conquered and owned.
It is my abiding hope to see a great horned owl, but this will not be the day that I run out into the cold morning, still in my pajamas searching him out. It is just too cold.
I told my mother once how much I wanted to see the owl. Her response was a look that only an Egyptian mother can conjure, rendering me scared, guilty, and feeling insane in one blow. Owls are an evil omen in Egypt, and in most ancient cultures—usually an omen of death. But then owls became associated with Athena, and became the symbol of wisdom. Could it be that knowledge of death and wisdom are one and the same, and that the symbology was a natural progression?
The year is closing. It is a time for reckoning. As I wander the woods and contemplate the trees, some of which are ancient, I find it difficult to take seriously the concept of our owning this land. If this oak which I stand before has been here for 10 generations before me and will be here another 10 generations after me, then who owns whom? Could it be that this awareness is the heart of darkness that drives us to destroy and to possess? Do we believe we can to drive away the consciousness of our insignificance by exerting our power, transitory as it is?
If only we could fully understand the Buddhist concept that in the knowledge of our insignificance is found true liberation. To embrace each moment, but never hold it too close.
To experience rather than posses.
And perhaps tread a bit more gently on this sweet earth.
And walk a bit more slowly…
And appreciate the ephemeral beauty,
of just one more
The perfect emblem of impermanence.
And traveling to its center,
Find ourselves at