I was first introduced to the following Native American story by my mother, who found it written on a beautiful card, then stuck it up on the refrigerator with a magnet, and there it stayed for many years. Although, at the time, I didn't understand it, I remember something about the story captured my heart and soul. Since then, I've read the story many times over the years. Tonight, it popped into my head again, so I went searching for the words. I couldn't find who the author is, or where the story originated, (other than the words were said by the character Marilyn Whirlwind on the tv show Northern Exposure ), so I'm quoting them from here, The Daily Post, a beautiful blog I discovered by Catherine O'Meara.
The eagle wasn’t always the eagle. The eagle, before he became the eagle, was Ukatangi, the talker. Ukatangi talked and talked. He talked so much, he could only hear himself. Not the river, not the wind, not even the wolf.
The raven came and said, “The wolf is hungry. If you stop talking, you will hear him. The wind, too. And when you hear the wind, you will fly.”
So Ukatangi stopped talking, and soon heard the wind rushing by. In the quiet, he could hear the directions of its currents, swiftly lifting and falling. The music of the wind changed Ukatangi’s nature, and he became the eagle.
The eagle soared, and it’s flight said all it needed to say.
It wasn't until I began the practice of stillness that I finally understood what this story meant. I also became aware of why, initially, it spoke to my soul, evoking my heart, instead of my mind.
I try, I really do, to stay connected with this blog, with others, and with the world. Yet lately, more often than not, especially this past year, it feels more like I'm having to force myself to go there. It's not like it's motivated by a lack of caring. If anything, paradoxically, I find the spirit of compassion is more alive within me. Yet sadly, too often, compassion and caring are not welcome, and too often seen as fanciful, or impractical. So I find myself seeking the quiet place, the simple place. I find myself returning to it again and again.
I sit quietly watching, listening, to the wind, to nature. I grow more aware of a place where love and balance reign, a more natural place. There is a natural order to all things, and it is only mankind who considers there is a need to place his hands all over it (and each other)...fix it...make it better...faster....constantly attempting to change, or improve, or add to something that is perfect just the way it is...including ourselves.
When do we stop. When do we say enough. When do we let go, take our hands off, put the sword down? When do we stop the clamoring, and clanging, and wanting, and pulling and grasping, and the need for control? When do we chuck it all, let go..
And like a friend said to me recently, "... let the world spin."
The world will always demand our attention. People will always desire to pull us this way and that to get what they want. Hell, we do it to ourselves. We lose touch with our spirit, our soul, the sound of our heart. "The wolf is hungry." Indeed...it howls in the distance. We feel it as a yearning, a longing that arises in the quiet of the night. We have forgotten what it is that calls us with an ancient voice, and we lock our doors against it, trembling with fear.
I've changed. I've been changing these past three or four years. But that's not really putting it accurately. I can see now, little by little, there has been a great letting go, a shedding, inside and out. At times it has felt forced from my hands and my life, sometimes it has been my decision. Nothing, not one area of my life, has escaped the clearing. But now I feel like I'm heading toward the closing of a circle, as if I've been in the slow turn of a decision made long ago. It feels just like the fourth round of a sacred sweat lodge, when you know you've finally made it through the most challenging part, the place of surrender. No longer do you ask for mercy. You have accepted the unacceptable, and now know you can and will persevere until the door flap is finally opened, bringing with it a soft breeze and cool air. You crawl out of the dark, to stand upright in the light, and the world is not the same as it was when you were last in it. You have new eyes. You are not the same. Gone.. is any and everything that wasn't a natural part of you. A clearing away of the dross.
The simple place is the natural place. No longer fettered to the added things, or to the demands and desires of this world, you find yourself willingly leaping into empty space, simply trusting that wings, and the wind to fill them, will form as you go. The simple place is the very heart of you, where you discover nothing else is needed. Nothing else.. ever was.