This poem was written over 15 years ago on a piece of property near the foothills of the White Mountains, eastern Arizona:
Out here on this high desert meadow there is a lesson in every single tiniest facet of nature.
From the long king snake that lives in the flagstone foundation and slithers freely beneath and around the house, the lesson is that fearful appearances can be deceiving. That is; what you fear may really be helping you.
From the cottontails, jackrabbits and rats who are all co-habitants, nose-to-nose in critter condo dwellings, the lesson is that we can all learn to live together despite the color of our coats or the shape of our tails!
From the trickster coyote who woke me out of a deep, hazy sleep one morning by whooping it up right outside my window, the message is this: Wake up!…Get up!…and don’t forget to bring your sense of humor.
The white owl has an important point to make. It sometimes calls to the night with its soulful song; I saw it perched high and gigantic and proud on the water tower one eve. Its presence was like that of a visitor from another world. The owl reminds us to take heed to the mysteries of twilight, the wisdom of the outer spaces which we peer into on a regular basis.
Dragonfly cruising around my head teaches me to take heed to those mysterious inner worlds.
From the wild tempests, monstrous elements that make bone-dry gulches and washes pulsate with rushing water and life in a matter of seconds, the lesson is to always try to ride with nature’s currents–because they will always overcome.
From the roadrunner trapped within the orchard fence: you can run but you can’t hide!
The deer and elk roaming these plains teach us that nature is still swift and stately and graceful.
Huge black crow circles overhead, eyeballing the peach trees, waiting for fruit. The crows arrive in small clusters, cawing and cackling and slapping each other around like a bunch of pranksters! They disappear as abruptly as they come, always animating the spirit of the situation; mocking your heart and mind again and again. Their message lines up with fate’s raucous currents: they go where life will bring them, always taking what they want along the way.
Both the white owl and the black crow left a feather; long, beautiful feathers, a coat-of-arms, their signature.
And the king snake left its old skin.
A praying mantas was praying on the floor beside my bed when I awoke one morning. As it looked up at me with those curious, bulging eyes, I realized its lesson: that every creature, large or small, has its place with God.
The saints who roam this hallowed terrain alongside ancient spirits remind me that someone still loves me.
But, oddly enough, the most eye-opening lesson here came from the simplest and ugliest of creatures: a horsefly. That huge black bug opened my mind without ever having a clue in its little tiny bug brain. Or did it?…
This was the biggest horsefly I’ve ever seen. It caught the door open and cruised in like a bomber plane; you could definately hear it coming. I tried in vain for days to redirect the homely critter back out, for if something is of no direct harm to me, I’d rather set it free than destroy it. (Plus, lots of guts.)
This big, dumb bug would not take a hint, and kept reclining back into some hidden corner of the house. Each time I made an effort to escort it out the door, I seemed to damage and cripple it a little more, until it finally withdrew into a look-out position in a crack of the window sill. Every once in a while I’d hear this pathetic buzzing.
I found myself cussing this horsefly for being so stupid; for not at least sensing somehow, from somewhere in the back of its fly brain, that I was trying to help it, trying to set it free. “Ignorant bug!”…(My thoughts attacking an innocent bug!)…and right then, for some reason, the word “angel” flew into my head.
At that instant, I realized the lesson:
Each and every one of us living, breathing beings on this terrestrial plane have arms of a higher power reaching to help us through every single heartbeat, every second of life (and which we are, at best, vaguely aware of).
And I realized then that the messengers of the Great Spirit are constantly guiding me to the door–and my freedom–while I unknowingly fight them and hurt only me, backing myself into a corner; trapped and injured by my own ignorant fears…like that big, ugly horsefly dying in the window sill.