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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual exercises’

Early this morning, I walked to our assigned meeting room at our conference center, down a gentle hill, to the training facility. The Fall morning air in Washington D.C. was crisp and refreshing, the sky clear, and the mood tranquil.

About halfway down the hill, I heard the unmistakable “caw” of corvus brachyrhynchos, the American Crow. What I suddenly fixated on was the rhythm of the calls and the echo that followed from other members of the “murder.” What was especially striking was the pattern of a single caw, then three in rapid succession,  with a five caw response, and then a triplet of “caws” followed by a rest note, and then the pattern repeated. So, the pattern was 1-3-5-3-repeat.

In an earlier post, I commented on the magic and meditative power of mathematics in general and the integers in particular. Crows are known for their “counting” vocalizations and the debate rages on whether it is language. What fascinated me was the pattern of the numbers. First, they are all primes, all odd numbers, the 1st three add to 9, and the sequence adds to 12, itself divisible by 3.

The numbers 3, 9 and 12 are ubiquitous. It was only a 5 minute meditation, but I was totally engaged. The sermon of the crows was about life’s natural ordering, the systems that arise in a self-generated and self-governing way,  guided by unseen “attractors” that generate form and function.

The message I felt was one of a wider fellowship that transcends species differences; a mysterious community of the sentient, alive with a yearning to connect, call out to one another, and receive a prompt and reassuring reply.

Herein lies the wisdom of Saint Francis that one feels most keenly on visiting Assisi and looking to the Umbrian landscape, the verdant panorama, and one’s sense of wonder at the wisdom of all living things. Consider the depth of what observing them can teach. This is more than reasonable when we consider that so many martial art moves derive from the study of animals ( e.g., the movements of cats) and symbolic themes in art and literature are often represented by animals and plants.

Listen to the conferencing birds. Consider the pattern of their choral production and marvel today or tomorrow at the voice of the Spirit carried on the fresh air in the early morning.

from a Bill Stillwell January 2003 web image of a murder of crows.

from a Bill Stillwell January 2003 web image of a murder of crows.

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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