[Flashback] A Parliament of Vultures

I wrote this on March 3, 2014. I don’t want to throw it out and there isn’t much I want to change except to clear out some verbiage, so I’m posting it as a memory, a bit of a snapshot into a moment of time. It is taking place right on the cusp of one the turning points in the blog, from Phase II to Phase III.

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Yesterday, my partner and I took a nice long walk through our little town. It was a beautiful day, made more precious by imminent cold weather. As we came to the end of our walk at a stretch of revitalized storefronts, black vultures started taking off from just behind the building.

One, two, four, then too many outstretched wings to count. A dark stream with feathery eddies that rose and twisted with the spring thermals. They broke into rivulets, dozens passing close enough we can hear the sharp, clear rustle of their great wings. High above them I can make out gulls, or maybe hawks.

Looking round, no one else follows the sky, no one else stands enraptured by the decamping of the birds. We seemed to be alone with this wonder. Then the vultures are gone into their separate groupings. Walking back, groups of three, five, and seven vultures soared over us as they went about their business.

I have never seen so many of them at once. The night before, I had been chasing the moon into the dark and these birds whispered alongside that work.

Stories have been in the air this year. A story I wrote years ago yielded new royalties and, unbidden, stories gathered around and tugged at my elbow. Some of them were fantastical, some not, but they were there like old ghosts. At one point, I used to write a fair amount of fiction, but most of it served as a channel for spiritual messages. When I started tuning into the messages as spiritual, when I started working with them ritually, the drive to write stories quieted.

Last week, though, in the predawn hours of the morning, I lay in bed and worked a story into coherence from a glimmering seed of an opening and a conclusion to the stretch of events between that would set the two in harmony. Snippets of dialogue echoed between scenes, the process of reclamation.

Were these part of the stories I keep hearing about? The new stories we need to start telling ourselves in order to change the world? That old saw of ‘new stories can save us’ feels ever older to me and those vultures in answer have made me even more suspicious of the storytellers. The stories feel like the detritus washed in ahead of a storm. I don’t think there is anything wrong with enjoying them, but detritus is for clearing away, and a warning.

Go deeper than your stories; get into your bones.

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