I've been called pretty much everything — from “crazy” to “witch” — because I can easily sense things beyond the faculties of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, especially an animal’s sunset journey. Labels aside, I am me. Other people’s opinions of me are their business, not mine. I just keep walking my path, growing and changing as needed.
The day in question began like any other. My partner’s alarm went off at 5:30 am. (Damn … I swear it sounds like an air raid). After my nine-year-old stepson got on the bus around 8:40 am, I turned and slowly walked halfway up the gravel driveway. Suddenly, a barred owl’s call echoed from the marsh just down the road. Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all? Something felt different, but I couldn’t explain the frissons overtaking my body. Regardless, I left for work, a bit more mindfully watchful than my norm.
I heard the distressed caw through my partially cracked window the moment I parked my car. Three times a crow took to the sky, then landed on the same white pine branch. A quick area scan showed a nearby inert mass of black feathers sprawled in the road. Snow shovel in hand, I walked over to the tree and spoke to the corvid.
I explained I wanted to respectfully move its companion’s remains to avoid further accidental desecration. The bird cocked its head to the side and eyed me. I grounded and awaited its answer. A few minutes later, I felt “yes” in my gut.
The intense energies of both winged beings swirled around me as I said a prayer and buried the corpse under a red maple in a nearby nature preserve. I sighed and leaned against the shovel’s handle. Knowing I had to open the health center for the day, I looked at the crow perched high in the tree, slightly bowed my head to it, and returned to the mundane 9-to-5 world. Later, when I went out to my car, I found a single black feather on the hood. I immediately knew the bird’s spirit had journeyed across the threshold and was finally at peace.
Despite differences in how we honor our animal brothers and sisters, I know we heal our relationship with nature just a little bit more when we reach out and purposefully interact with them. And slowly, as these encounters increase over time, may we finally harmonize our place among the three realms of sea, land, and sky. That’s what I told the corvid as I rooted its body deep in the heart of Mother Earth — a death midwife’s sacred orison.