Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bede's Bird

It took me about twenty minutes of Googling today to find the allusion which was bugging me - and what that teaches me about the Internet is that it's getting dumber along with the rest of us.
(Somebody else was looking for the same thing a couple of months ago.)

The Venerable Bede:
"You are sitting feasting with your ealdormen and thegns in winter time; the fire is burning on the hearth in the middle of the hall and all inside is warm, while outside the wintry storms of rain and snow are raging; and a sparrow flies swiftly through the hall. It enters in at one door and quickly flies out the other. For the few moments it is inside, the storm and wintry tempest cannot touch it, but after the briefest moment of calm, it flits from your sight, out of the wintry storm and into it again."
 Monday morning and the sultry night has become a stuffy early morning - the air dead and unmoving. We open the front door as well as the back door. And a Dove rushes in. And rushes out.

Later that morning I'm having my first smoke of the working day. On the balcony is a long, pale grey feather. So I pick it up and take it back to my workplace, where it sticks up from between the F8 and F7 keys, a gift.

I know someone else has made that metaphor, before: that Life is like a bird traversing a room, coming  from the great outdoors to fly across the inner spaces and back out into the great outdoors again. But it seems to me that this Dove provided a more accurate analogy than the Bede's Sparrow.

Our Dove came in from the Space Beyond which was full of light and warmth and heat; flew a little while across a darker, shadowed Inner Plane, and departed again to the Great Light Beyond.

He could always see the Great Light before him as he flew across the living room and then the kitchen - it was always in front of him, beckoning him on and guiding him out. if he was looking, that is.

To see the Light from which he'd come, he'd have had to crane his neck around, but he could surely feel, if he tried, the heat and maybe - if there had been a breath of air outside - the wind would have ruffled his feathers. Wind from the Source.

Even, if his birdy beak was up to it, could he smell and taste the air of All Around, as it passed with him through the Little Within?

Pic: Carrie Wild, "Bede's Sparrow"