Tuesday morning I wake up happy again, the first time in weeks. I don’t know why. I am still drinking two strong cups of yerba maté each day, still eating chips and other junky food, still drinking too much kombucha. But my heart lifts over nothing, some secret balance restored, chemistry and spirit righted. Monday was my writing group and sitting group again, so I can point to them, too, but I know it is not that simple. Unexpected joy comes when it will. I am lucky in how often it visits. I stop writing for a moment now, shift in the tall, metal chair, twist my back in an easy stretch, catch the changed light on the cement of the courtyard beside the clay cat. October light. Ordinary miracle. A hummingbird tastes the Mexican petunias four feet from where I sit, purple blossom after purple blossom wiggling on their stems. I can hear my white-crowned sparrows nibbling seeds in the small, square tray feeder tucked beneath the bougainvillea, her own sagging branches, heavy with fuchsia blooms, hiding the birds from me. Yesterday, I heard a verdin peeping outside the open window to the street. I looked up from the computer in time to watch him hop onto a louver, flit to the curtain rod inside, have a look around the living room. I didn’t stop grinning until he’d had his fill and hopped back out again. Today, I am washing dishes when I hear a flurry in the courtyard, a loud thud on the sliding glass door. I turn from the sink in time to see my Cooper’s hawk swoop between the orange umbrellas and follow a dove up over the roof. I’d been dreaming about the winter, about hot springs, about being naked, submerged in the water, cold air against my face, touching my warmed shoulders when I moved. Ordinary magic. Extraordinary gifts.
I put my big weird orange tube scarf over my head and fluff it up around my neck, tie Joe’s old sweater around my waist. It is not yet dusk when I walk out my wooden gate, the big clouds in the sky lit up by the last of the setting sun that went behind our mountains almost two hours ago. It’s my first walk for sheer pleasure in a long time. I go along the golf course path. I watch a hawk glide-land in the dead branches of the tree beside the tennis courts. When I reach the tree I stop to talk to him. “Are you a Cooper’s hawk?” I ask. And then, “Are you my Cooper’s hawk?” He doesn’t answer in a way I know how to recognize, but he doesn’t leave, either. Beyond the tree I see bunnies nibbling on the grass. It’s dusk now, and I can feel the magic of it descend on us. A Costa’s hummingbird lands three feet away, his violet mantle glistening in the remaining light. The cottontails don’t scatter today when I walk by. I am careful not to stop and not to stare. I grab quick greedy glimpses of them while I walk, drinking in their exquisite furry forms, the depth in their dark eyes, the busy concentration of their chewing. When I walk back again the rabbits are still eating, but the hawk is gone. I scan the golf course for coyotes in the late dusk. I can hear the traffic about a block away, loud on a Friday evening. I think of people going home from work, buying groceries, heading out to dinner. I soak up the respite of this path, this quiet other world settling into night, the presence of the San Jacintos. I remember why I want to return to this–balm for my spirit.
I begin to feel a shift in me. It seems new, like something I may have never known before. Or if I did, it was too long ago to remember. I am sure it’s connected to the healing work Elana has been doing with me. For a long time now, I’ve been waiting for my joy to come back, the way most mornings my heart would lift again and again over small pleasures. I don’t have that, those leaps of joy over a glimpse of the mountains or a visit from a hummingbird. But when I wake up I feel this subtle sense of well-being. Each morning I stay in bed to see if it’s still there and to savor it. I lie on my back and stretch out my arms to accept it even more, grateful to be healing, eager to flourish and prosper in all ways. I believe receiving in this way is tied, too, to my wish, my prayer, for reassurance. Ever since I understood being reassured is my path toward becoming self-assured, the universe keeps meeting me in this. I walk home from the bus through the trailer park, olive oil and popcorn kernels from Trader Joe’s weighing on my shoulders. I am content, unhurried. I look up and the big waxing moon hangs low in the southern sky before me, both beacon and greeting. The Cooper’s hawk comes when I sit in the courtyard and dream my writing dreams, her arrival, the great beating of her wings, both validation and promise. I cross the big empty parking lot during walking meditation. I am companioned by the growing moon rising in the east, the presence of the palo verdes. I stop walking and stare at a shape beside a tree in the distance. It looks like a giant rabbit. It must be a cactus, I think. And then the cactus turns and lopes across the desert. I feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. He is so huge. He stops and stands upright again. We watch each other in the silence. When the bell rings, I bow to him before I turn to go, certain he is magic, both unexpected gift and delicious awe.
I sit in the courtyard watching a raven in the rain. He is sitting in a palm tree in the distance, moving up and down in the light wind, but he seems to be enjoying himself. I count the seconds between the lightening and the thunder. Sable goes inside, hides under the bed, the only marring of my delight. In the kitchen I hear a loud popping sound and look out the window half expecting to see a palm tree in flames. Outside again, the birds take flight in unison, and I crane my neck looking for a hawk. He lands in my neighbor’s tree, and I move the binoculars to my eyes in slow motion. He’s all wet, his neck feathers slick and clumping like the wet fur of a cat. He is gorgeous, regal, his golden eyes fiercely alive. Later, I eat popcorn in bed, my eyes closing on my book, and let sleep claim me. I drift from dozing to deep sleep and back again, the steady rain soaking through all my layers. It is this long nap in the rain on a summer afternoon, so rare here, that is most alive in me now as I write, embedded in my flesh, touched by the divine. Did I remember to thank you? After, I go for a walk in the late dusk. I place each foot with care, small frogs hopping out of my way with every step I take.
My kitchen sink is angled in a corner, so when I stand before it to do my healing “toning” with the CD, the voices come to me from behind, engulf me, and my own meets them in the space between me and the corner, echoing, blending. Today I am toning my weakest note, the C, my birth note. I run the scrubbie inside a dirty glass and hit the note. “Jah,” I hold for eight counts, then “pah,” for eight counts more. I still run out of breath. My voice cracks and wavers, wobbly as I work to heal. But already I can feel the difference. Ideas for my blog flit through my head as I stand there, a series, maybe, about my health things, my German healers. The toning vibrates me. The dishes pile up clean and soapy in the left side of the sink. I think again about the power of belief, and just then the birds outside the window at my back bolt in a sudden racket of wings. I look over my shoulder, and the hawk swoops past and lands on the fence. I stand still, my fingers full of soapsuds, so I won’t startle him away. He moves to the other fence, and I turn around and bend my knees to see him through the window. When he flies off, I wish him well, send up a prayer. “May he have a full belly,” I whisper, “a little more often than he needs.” May he have a mate, offspring, a happy life. May he not go hungry. And then I cry, squatting on the kitchen floor, taken by that odd mix of gratitude and grief and love, aching for the small, beautiful, wild things of our world.
The doves scatter, twenty or more of them fanning out from the large tray feeder before me. I duck without meaning to, frantic flapping lives darting in all directions. I’m sitting in the courtyard answering questions from faculty in the Users Group on my laptop, feet propped up before me, misters cooling the air beneath the umbrella. And then the Cooper’s Hawk dips and banks before me, and I pull my knees up with a jerk. For one moment it looks like he will land on my footstool, and I’m breathless with his nearness. But he sees me, or maybe I gasp, and he veers toward our Palo Verde instead. He sits in Serena on a low green branch, and I strain to see him, to take in every bit of him with nearsighted eyes. I remember a friend of mine talking decades ago about how she was navigating a relationship with her new lover. “I keep reminding myself to just sit back and stay open,” she said. I do this now while the hawk studies me, beaming love while trying not to put too intense a focus on him. He stays for quite a while, making those wonderful quiet vocalizations I adore. If only I spoke hawk. I stay silent, not wanting to send him away. When he goes, I watch him dive between the fence and my neighbor’s carport and swoop north. A half dozen doves are startled out of a tree and fly east. I hear the water from the mister and the high-pitched sounds of dove wings flying away. I watch and listen, but I don’t see the hawk again.