Category Archives: Deeper Sensation
Merlin, the Cornell Lab Bird ID App makes every walk better. Instead of listening to the constant chatter inside my brain, it has me attending to the bird song all around me. At the push of a button, I am recording and the app (and I) are listening, patiently. We wait and wonder together until, like magic, the app produces images of the bird who is singing and calling to me. Or perhaps several suggestions of who it might be. It’s not always sure, but it usually designates a “most likely” candidate.
How cool, I got to wondering, would it be if I had a God ID App. You know, point and record, and my phone tells me whether what I am listening to is God.
Wow. That is rich. Would my phone explode with God-sightings? Yeah, that one and that one, too and that over there and… OR, would I, after waiting a good long while eagerly anticipating the undeniable God-moment, give up in frustration when my App wasn’t able to definitively conclude that God was within hearing. A still small voice is, after all, a very difficult thing to hear. Not sure we can rely on technology to detect it.
Still smiling, I move along the meandering path, phone recorder at the ready. I do not hurry. I am listening. Along the way I greet the dog walkers I pass with what is probably a little more enthusiasm than is called for. The pups seemed especially glad to see me. I excuse myself when, in my attention to the App, I veer a little more on their side than is allowed.
Then, I hear the perfect bird. It’s singing solo up in the branches to my left. I point my phone in its direction, punch up the recording and wait. Northern Mockingbird, it tells me. Wait, it also might be a Brown Thrasher.
Then I see it. Perfectly illuminated in the dense green of the tree. Unmistakable. RED. It’s a male cardinal. I look and listen. I can see the sounds coming from its beak. Its partner flies in to greet it. Female cardinal for sure. Merlin App, you have failed.
Wow. Wonder if I can trust this App at all. Maybe it’s been messing with me all along.
So much for that God App idea. Clearly, these human-made versions are only so good. But, still, there is something about the walking while not hurrying, the listening, the expectation, even the waiting… that all felt pretty darn good. Sort of like an inward glow of positivity. Hopeful. Friendly. Constructive. Creative. Maybe there’s something to this.
Perhaps I don’t need an App at all. Maybe I have all I need, not at my fingertips, but at my disposal. If I wander and listen and wait patiently, love will show up.
I wonder what those dogs saw in me.
My legs are a-wobble. Every half a step forward, a good bit sideways I go. Trying my best to stand still, I list to one side and then the other. Closing my eyes, I teeter — no, not exactly teeter — I tip, lean, crest a wave and recover to ride the next and the next. I roll.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not impaired — neither drunk, nor woozy. I’m fully awake, fully aware, fully cognizant, all systems go. It’s just that my body’s balancing system thinks it’s still aboard the ship where I spent the last week. In spite of all my other senses saying, “See, you’re on pavement. Solid ground. Perfectly still. Nothing’s moving,” my body isn’t buying it. It’s tuned into its own channel, plugged into its own input source, trusting its own instincts.
Funny, I have queried others who were aboard the boat with me and none have experienced this sustained rocking. My husband was totally terrestrial the moment we came ashore. Other friends had perhaps a day or two of remnant “sea legs.” But I rock and roll a good long while. Only over multiple days of walking on terra firma, will my body return to its former stride; the old way, the boring but steadfast, the everyday way.
Just between you and me, I prefer the rhythm of the waves. There is just something in me that finds home there. I wonder if rhythm is my default sensation.
It served me well on our expedition from the ship over to Espanola Island where paths were pretty treacherous: big rocks and very unsure footing. At first, my sneakers kept slipping; the harder I tried to find just the right foothold, the more unsteady I became. But when I found my footing by hip-hopping, one-two-ing, left-righting from one rock to the next, I kept my balance. Cha-cha-cha. Was anyone else feeling the rhythm or grooving to the beat? Probably not. Yes, embarrassing. Don’t tell them.
But here I am, a full week ashore and still rocking my sea-legs. Am I just made differently?
Makes me wonder if my first language wasn’t words, but movement. Before we speak, we move. Why can’t that be our native tongue? Can’t you just picture the moment? The Creator thinks, hmm, this one’s gonna think in motion. And not random motion but guided motion and choreographed motion. She’s gonna respond in motion and understand in motion. When she sees someone move, she’ll move, too. When she’s stumped, she’ll untangle things on the move. It’ll stay with her. It’s the way I’ll speak to her.
Why wouldn’t the one who created the winds and the waves, the storms and the calm, the rhythm and the rocking, sow this into us as well?
I must say, the rocking is gentling so I’m not in a hurry for it to go. It has a language of its own. Seems to speak in a very old tongue from the ancient of days, from before days, perhaps even before time, when that language of love that holds and rocks and caresses and cares spoke creation itself.
Before there was light by which to see
and air through which to hear;
Before there was land on which to stand,
and an expanse of sky to draw our gaze upward;
Love was in motion.
Surely, it was.
And still is.
I am paused for a sip of refreshment from the Swell water bottle I’ve pulled from its cage which is mounted on my bicycle. I have chosen this spot for a water stop because it is nicely shaded under the highway overpass. Here I can shelter from this Florida sun I’m not used to — it is January, after all. Overhead, gigantic cement girders support a six lane highway. I can hear the traffic whizzing by… at considerably more-than-highway speed.
No, I do not lament the pace of life that it is passing me by, ever at breakneck speed. Rather, I am perfectly satisfied to pause and sip in this shade as the other cyclists pedal by. I acknowledge some with a nod. Others pass without even a glance. A few alert me that they’re coming. “On your left,” they say. And they are for a fleeting moment and then grow smaller and smaller in the distance.
Suddenly alone with my thoughts, I let my eyes travel upward to the giant grey girders over my head, silent and strong but massive. For a very split second, I imagine what might happen if they came crashing down. But I dismiss this thought quickly. I am confident that a capable architect, an accurate building engineer and a diligent construction crew erected this structure. Certainly, all necessary precautions have been taken and the required inspections have been made to guarantee its structural soundness and assure safety.
Standing here alone astraddle my bicycle saddle, a cycling helmet the only form of protection I have, I suddenly realize I’ve put a lot of trust in a whole host of humans I’ve never met.
In this moment, something inclines me to look upward and past the girders.
When I do, the dazzling, impossibly-azure sky peeks from beyond the bridge’s span and compels my gaze. “Why,” it seems to say, “if you trust these chunks of cement to protect you, why do you not trust me?” The voice-that’s-not-a-voice goes on. “I am the architect of all that is, the designer of all that will be, the builder of all that is becoming. Why, if you trust the work of human hands, do you not trust me?”
The Lord of Universe now has my full attention.
Why don’t I trust the Lord of the sky to protect me as I go along my way?
When I look around at all that has been made, why don’t I trust?
When I survey all that has been given, why don’t I trust?
When I recall the many instances from which I have been rescued, why don’t I trust?
In that moment I turn my eyes again to the ghostly white of the cement girders, ominous in their row-by-row alignment overhead. I notice the rumble of traffic which now echoes in thunderous tones on all sides. I permit the thought which had been holding itself back: if I heard the structure of this bridge crack and start to give way, would I be able to extricate myself in time? Could I dive to safety? What about the other cyclists? What of the unsuspecting motorists?
No, I decide, I could not save myself. No, we could not save ourselves.
Slowly, I take a final swig from my Swell, carefully screw on its top and slide it back into its plastic cage. Looking to left and to right, I ease my bicycle back onto the trail and propel myself into an easy rhythm.
I probably won’t stop here on my return trip. I’ll pause in the shade of a nearby tree, greened by the sunny days and watered by the summer rains. And I’ll listen.