It sometimes happens, in May in St. Louis, when the weather is particularly glorious. Not quite cool, not quite hot. And the birds sing. Actually, they don’t just sing, they belt out operatic arias! For a few days, Bob has been asking me if I hear the birds in the morning. No, I haven’t.
Till yesterday when we sat outside and had coffee.
And I held my warm cup of coffee and leaned back and listened. I wondered what they were saying. Was it a UN Council? Or were they discussing the day’s events? Or commenting on the cloudless sky? How interesting that I could not see one bird, but it sounded like thousands hovering just above me.
It reminded me of when I lived in Russia as a graduate student and visited Orthodox Churches. Up in balcony you could hear but not see the choir singing angelic hymns in Old Church Slavonic. Maybe there were only a handful of singers, but it sounded like thousands, like the thousands of birds this morning. The birds I hadn’t heard till this morning.
Why hadn’t I heard them?
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, I don’t know anything about consciousness. I just try to teach my students to hear the birds sing.
Maybe it’s as simple as learning to hear the birds sing. To hear what is right outside your window. To see what is right in front of you. To feel what is arising within you. And greet each moment, each day, with reverence, because, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. And what we choose to hear and see and feel shapes our mind and our hearts.