WIND (1 of 4, God in the Elements)

Feather on the Breath of God

tiny feather, downy white
tucked under the wing
of mother dove
close to her breast
near to her heart
warm and safe
hidden, obscured
riding on the effort
of other, stronger wings
ruffling gently in the soaring
but securely tethered
cautiously protected

mother dove settles in her nest
tiny feather rests and breathes
snug and comfortable through the night
then mother wing lifts
morning light peeps through
faint stirring of air
a gentle but solid beak
nudges tiny feather
rubbing back and forth in silent greeting
then grasps and with a quick tug
plucks tiny feather out
pauses a moment
then releases with a sideways toss

tiny feather hovers nearby
for an unbelieving moment
blinking in betrayed astonishment
and suddenly is whisked away
by a dizzying breeze

up she rises on a warm tide
spinning and spinning
lost and alone
gone are her bearings
her fixed orientation
identity and tribe
the certainty of purpose and direction
replaced by sickening disorientation

at first she fights in fear
tries to reverse course
to swim back to the safety of the nest
but soon she hears a whisper
let go
so she releases her fear
lets it fall to the ground
and she rises higher in response
long she floats
and far she travels
through breezy warmth of day
and cool starlit skies
she gazes down on forests
fields and rivers
feels the fellowship of sun
and moon on her journey
learns to trust the wind as her guide
buoyed on the breeze
as if on the back of a playful dolphin
she learns to laugh in delight
then to drift, contented as a cloud

sometimes the wind seems to stop
and she slowly descends
the ground rising to meet her
she might spend a few hours 
stuck to a dewdrop on a blade of grass
breathing in the smell of green
till the sun rises, the dew dries
and a new breeze lifts her up and on again
yielded to the will of the wind
yet conscious of a longing
an unknown destination
her place of resurrection
trust, surrender and longing
release her to ride on the breath of God

then one still day
she sinks slowly down
to rest in a meadow
nearby a dove is gathering 
twigs and grass for her nest
tiny feather watches 
as she makes several trips
back and forth from ground to limb
then she alights very close
seems almost to smile in recognition
a gentle beak closes on tiny feather
then strong wings carry her up
to the tree, to the nest almost complete
tiny feather is tucked amongst
the fragrant pine needles
she becomes a soft lining
for mother, eggs and hatchlings

once again she rests under
the warm, beating heart
and knows that wind and mother
moon and nest
all are God
all are home

by Celeste Boudreaux, April 2022

This poem is inspired by Hildegard of Bingham, who spoke of herself and her life’s work as “a feather on the breath of God.” This is the kind of radical surrender that lead to a vast, interior freedom.

Next post: FIRE (2 of 4, God in the Elements)

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