Today's dance practice took me outside into another day of wet and wild weather. Heading from home between the rain showers, I came to an area of the park that opens up into a huge grassy field. I was awoken from 'my own head' and brought into the beauty of the present moment when a Great Blue Heron swooped close overhead. It was one of those moments that makes you swoon - the look of it's outstretched, arched wings that appeared awkward in their movement, and, it's long, s-shaped neck pulled my heart and soul strings that made me feel connected with a being that was a very, very ancient soul...
The heron joined several others on the grassy field nearby. All I could do, initially, was quietly watch in awe as they too stood in stillness... I felt like I was stalking them as they were stalking food - the watchers being watched. Suddenly, one of the herons made a lurching movement and in an instant pulled up from the grass what I could only assume to be some sort of rodent. It was almost comical as it held in it's beak a mass of grass with it's catch that made it look like it was wearing a grassy mustache!
Not wanting to disturb these amazing creatures, whom I was assuming are inland from the beach because of the intense winds, rains and stormy seas, I did a short dance honoring their magnificence, honoring their being...
I was also reminded of Mary Oliver's poems:
Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
of the summer pond,
rises into the air
and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed
back into itself--
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn't a miracle
but the common thing,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body
into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
A little farther into the park I walked by remnants of an old building and felt drawn to dance in the cement corner with the old tiles and puddles on the ground. I wasn't sure what was inspiring this dance at the time to stay close to, and peer from behind the wall as if hiding at certain points.
Just as it started to rain and I was heading home, I saw some movement among dried leaves and needles beneath a fir tree. As I came closer I realized it was the sweetest brown shrew! It ran for a little bit, and then hid under a leaf for a bit, and then ran again... I saw in it's actions my previous prey-like dance amongst the ruins, and I thought of how a small being like this was probably what I had just witnessed the heron devouring minutes earlier. This train of thought reminded me of the heron a friend of mine had land on her roof after it had been attacked and killed by bald eagles recently...
I am grateful for this dance practice as taught by my butoh mentor, Momo, that connects me so deeply to the natural world... This time spent in nature today reminded me of the preciousness of life and how, although exquisitely beautiful, it is often a tough world, and in the natural world it is so much about survival and being both predator and prey.
It is hard for me to witness one species eat another and yet it is as necessary as water to drink and air to breath... and so, predator and prey... I pray for the survival of all the species' survival on our Mama Earth, and as human beings, may our thoughts and actions contribute to that survival for all beings...
I have just read that the Great Blue Heron is a threatened species. Read more: here. Blessings to the Great Blue and the Tiny Shrew...
Thank you for viewing,
There is a film in the black space below. If you look very closely, you may see the herons in the background... hmmm... perhaps with a magnifying glass???
Music: Philip Glass
View my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill