Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A story about finding your true gift.

Artwork: Crow Child, mixed media sculpture
Susan Gallacher-Turner c2006

I was standing in the grove hunting rabbits when I saw him. At first, it was just a black blur in the blue strips of sky between the trees. Then I heard a rustle among the leaves followed by the cawing a big shiny crow swooping and diving down to the forest floor. I ran to see what prey had fallen beyond the crow’s reach. There among the leaves and birch bark was his small still body. It was a baby crow, fallen from its first flight, left for dead by its mother. I sat still and watched waiting to see a wing move, a beak lift, or a breast feather quiver with a tiny breath. For a long time, there was nothing.

Then, just as my patience was giving out, the black body gave a tiny shudder. I knew the bird was alive. I carefully scooped the body into my handmade bed of leaves and birch bark. I moved swiftly, softly carrying the bird to Alyanna, the healer. She would know what to do.
Her tent was warm and smelled of the spices she used in her herbal medicines. I entered cautiously. I knew her power was great and I had always been a little afraid of her. As Alyanna turned, I shivered and held up my patient. Quietly, she came forward and took the birch bark bed from my hands. I sat down near the doorway to wait.

I watched as she gently ran a finger over the bird examining it from beak to tail feathers. She turned to her herbs and began mixing leaves in a bowl of hot water. As the brew streamed, she began making a clicking noise bending near the bird and then away. I watched and listened curiously, hoping I would not be seen and banished from my spot by the door. Soon, she dipped her finger into the hot water, carried it over to the bird’s beak, and let the drips fall.

Just as I began to relax, Alayanna turned in my direction. She stretched out her hand and motioned me across the floor. Moving toward her, I wondered if I was to be punished for disturbing the young crow. Crows were important messengers of Lug, the sun god, and the consequence of killing a crow was to be banished from our village for bringing bad luck.
Alyanna placed her fingertip above the baby bird’s breast and I watched it rise and fall with a regular rhythm. I knew the bird would survive. Alyanna’s hand came toward me then and stroked my face; I knew I had done the right thing.

The baby crow grew bigger and stronger along with me. I became known as sun boy, the one who had brought good luck and good weather to our village. We hunted rabbits, caught fish, bathed in the stream and perched in the birch trees together. At night, he slept on a basket handle, while I lay on the floor. He was my friend and companion.

Then one day, Alyanna came to me and said it was time. I knew that she often took younger ones with her to gather herbs needed for healing, but I had a sinking feeling that day. We walked away from the village, the crow swooping by my side. Alyanna looked up and smiled; yet I did not feel happy trekking through the sunny fields. I saw many important herbs, but Alyanna did not stop or ask me to dig up roots or trim leaves. After a while, we stopped to drink and rest. She took my hand, looking deep into my eyes and told me again that it was time. Then I knew. I shook my head, looking way not believing that I was being asked to give up my friend and companion.

Alyanna explained to me that I was chosen to find the crow. I had done the right thing bringing the crow to her, helping to heal him and giving him a nest in my home. By finding the crow I had shown her my true spirit belonged in healing and the crow had guided me to her. But now it was time for both of us to go our own ways, to live our lives in different worlds.

I can’t imagine a day without my crow companion. I said to myself, with a heavy heart, holding onto all the ramblings in the woods and sunny days on the riverbank, I was not ready. I don’t want to give up my one true friend and spend my days digging roots and boiling leaves in a dark hut.

But I knew I had no choice. Just as trees are rooted to the ground, birds are meant to fly free in the endless sky and I was meant to walk on the earth and look up to the sky for light and guidance.

I stood up, put out my arm for my crow to perch. With my free hand, I stroked his smooth dark feathers as we looked into each other’s eyes. He and I both knew, that as we lived in our separate worlds, we would always be together. I lifted Lug and he rose, silhouetted against the brilliant yellow sun. Just as he had guided me to Alyanna, he would continue to guide my spirit, no matter how great the distance between earth and sky.

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