This story is about my other encounter with a raven
which I wrote a few months ago.
In reference to Spirit of the West, it is a Canadian folk rock band who had just lost their lead singer
He was a powerhouse of a performer with energy which permeated a room of 10
or a stadium of thousands.
He died from complications due to early onset dementia.
He was 57. The same age as myself.
On a day when we lost a part of Spirit of the West, I was a quiet witness to another spirit of the west passing.On a deserted lakeside trail, my uncle and I and 3 dogs ambled up through firs and arbutus to a peaceful lake in the highlands.
We walked amongst the bountiful mushroom crop, best in years….giant white gills emerging, orange flat caps, slimy, skeleton like, curled up hands, reaching out from the mossy graves.The smallest dog caught the scent of something more interesting though.And as if he knew to be gentle other than the crazed terrier on the scent of something to hunt, he nudged his nose towards it.
The feathered black body lay off to the side of our footpath.
The Raven. Still alive. Resting on his side.We thought at first that he was injured.Should we save him?Take him to the wildlife rescue centre?My Uncle took all three dogs away and left me with him.I stroked his feathered back…he looked at me calmly from a black, glass bead of an eye.
The top of his head slightly ruffled in proud raven fashion.
The beak…the long, strong confident power of it.And then I looked at his leg, relaxed under the large wing.
It was calloused at the knee joint like old burled maple. Dry, no fresh flesh of a wound. His foot had similar aged markings. Years of wear. Of battles. Of old wounds. Maybe arthritis had set in.
I think he had chosen to lay down his sword.To rest on the bed of fallen leaves .His satin black form against the brown blanket of an all too familiar autumn floor.How old are you I wondered?I wanted to go home and rip open one of my own down quilts and bring a bag of feathers back to him.Cover him with warmth on this frosty night.Lay with him so he was not alone.But he was not alone.While I sat there, a congress of ravens , cackled and looped their songs above this senior member.
They circled a hundred feet above him, sat vigilantly in treetops but they were not that far away in spirit to the one who lay dying on the forest floor.
He could hear their words of goodbyes and well wishes.I offered him my own words of comfort in a language he wouldn’t understand but perhaps through my tone and touch he would grasp my encouragement of love and light on his journey to the next world.I thought of the things in my own life that are dying.How acceptance is not an easy thing for mortals.Today, once again, I am learning from the world beyond words and human things.Keep to the quiet paths.Listen to the swans trumpet.Stop to watch the sun rise through a frosted, dying seed head.The tall, tawny coloured high grasses will keep you company on an early morning walk.And always…listen for the silence in between it all.