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Taking Flight

As I began this year I had an encounter with a flock of pigeons which lifted my heart unexpectedly and then I found a feather on my doorstep.  And so “Taking Flight” became my image for the year ahead.  On my recent pilgrimage, winged ones – both avian and angelic – were significant symbols for me, appearing to me constantly during my travels and reminding me of that heart-transcending moment months before.

The crow in particular became significant.  I have always loved these black “glossy and rowdy” creatures, and since moving to Seattle over six years ago I have become even more enchanted by these ubiquitous, wise, and wily ones who are at the heart of Northwest Native American Creation stories.  Raven is both trickster and bringer of light to the world. In the story of St. Benedict’s life, we learn that he had a pet crow who one day saved his life from poisoning and so Benedict is often depicted with this black bird at his side.

During my pilgrimage crows were present in all three parts of my triptych journey – from the time in Rome to enter the world of St. Benedict more deeply, to the cemetery in Vienna where my father is buried, to the landscape of Ireland where on the anniversary of my mother’s death and on the very last day of my journey, hundreds of crows danced in the sky above me.

Now, as I take my morning walks each day, I greet crows as my ammas and abbas – those wise ones who dwelled in the desert and pilgrims would follow seeking a word from them.  I ask for my word and in the cacophony of caws I hear simply one – “soar.”

(Crow photos taken in Rome, Vienna, and Ireland)

© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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9 Responses

  1. On Wednesday there were murders of crows such as I have never seen near my daughter’s school–thousands and thousands of them, in trees, on the ground like a black carpet. A communal crow roost–I wonder what they were seeking from each other…and why on that particular day.

  2. My son’s “power animal” is the raven. I found him a pendant with a raven that he now wears every day. I think the raven is a fascinating creature. Have you seen the ravens at the Tower of London? Extraordinary!

    As Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, I thank you for including her words today.

  3. This past summer, on the morning of my father’s funeral a raven landed on a chair on our deck, right outside the kitchen window. It definitely wanted to catch my eye. There are many crows and ravens here, but they don’t usually hang out on my deck……….

  4. Crows have been significant for me in the past. At one point when I was seeing a lot of them, I read that they are an omen of change, which I liked.

    Beautiful images!