Evie & Poppy Talk About Birds
Evie told Poppy how one day, nestled in the stalks of the Shasta daisy, she found a tiny neat nest of slender twigs stitched together with spider threads. In it were three speckled eggs. One was a dud but the other two hatched. At first day the babies were grotesque. Dark skin sealed big eye bulges shut. Yellow-rimmed beaks gaped automatically, fantastically whenever the leaves of the daisy stirred no matter what stirred them, and thin pink rib skin hammered out helpless, helpless.
Soon a charcoal line along the spine became a ragged row of quills. Skewgee feathers sprouted. As the body grew, the beaks no longer seemed so out of proportion. Mom and Dad flew to and fro, dangling inch worms and smashed bugs. By day five the tiny bodies were covered well enough with a coat of feathers. Scruffy but all there. Epaulets of quills and feathers became wings, and the eyes opened wide. Cute eyes, really.
Then a big monster—this is really Evie—peered into the nest. The babies hopped out with a squeak and ran, flew, bumbled into stalks and stems and vines tangled at the far edge of the garden. Mom perched on the garden post, screeching, but not at Evie. She darted down. To her baby, Evie assumed. She couldn’t spot her. Evie sat on the grass as Mom & Dad flew in and out, with and without worms. Training time. Evie suspected that a crash course in mobility was going on. She never did see the babies fly away.
Poppy and Evie, in the middle of the day, in the middle of life, remember the Pema Chodrun quote: “Path is a matter of continually being kicked out of the nest.” Or something like that. That’s the gist. Evie remarks that she never quite gets how she is still in the nest especially after all these years of meditation. It is hard to see it.
Evie feels this. She feels a vicious fiery prick in her left breast. Like a bug bite. Now it blossoms hot and strange. It makes her cry though not just from the burning. Something else. She thinks about her old, old mother who she now cares for like a baby bird. Make sure she doesn’t fall. Make sure she eats. Tries to protect. Her mother feels like a little bird when Evie hugs her delicate bones, and the fluttery smile with watery brown eyes cast up to Evie’s face are more child than adult. Yes. Her mother is a baby bird and now Evie is the big bird. This cuts Evie’s breath into little pieces and squeezes her heart. It’s so upside down. She is afraid of letting this baby bird down, afraid of all the wild cats and night owls, the claws and teeth, that can swoop and eat her baby bird.
“And the nest,” says Poppy, “is not really so safe, is it? I mean, the bird can’t fly yet, but nothing protects it from the hawk. The parents are useless except to feed the babies, and hope that they’ll make it into flight where it is safe. Mostly.”
Evie feels the irony of this. Her mother becoming a baby bird means that Evie has to get out of the nest. She has to stretch her wings. She opens her arms. Her left breast hurts. The breast, not the muscle, not the heart. Evie’s nipple, and the flesh beneath it, burn and ache. This is where, on her mother, as a tiny creature Evie had nursed and rested. She begins to cry. It is hard, this flying part: her mother recedes into childhood as she departs the big nest of earth while Evie stays to watch her go, and to let her go. Evie’s breast cramps and burns.
“Reach out my arms,” Evie repeats to herself, “Reach out!” And she cries because it hurts. “Breasts and arms are my wings.”
Practice: Gentle Breast
Carefully cradle your breast with your hands. Feel the shape and weight and texture in your palm. Now shift your focus to feeling the sense, from inside your breast of your hands moving your breast. This is shift of proprioceptive focus. First in the hands. Then in the breast.
Now, find a surface that is soft and gentle to rest on—a pillow, a cushiony mat, a sheepskin—and lie down on your belly and let gravity act as your hands. Gravity holds your breast. With care and awareness, roll on your belly putting weight more up toward your upper torso. Take your time with this, never feeling pain just gentle pressure. Stay connected to your breathing and the pressure that you body weight can exert. We want to find a comforting feedback. Spend time in the exploration of comfort and awareness.
Thank you for joining this great adventure and for sharing this with friends.
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