Take a look at this video that was passed on to me by Al Jessness.
We don’t always see the evidence for it, but Nature does not distinguish between life and death. Both are ongoing, indivisible, a universal duality that is better understood as process than as punishment or reward, beginning or end. I should go further to say that Nature does not admit to opposites of any kind: right or wrong, heaven or hell, pleasure or pain, success or failure. Like time past and time future, they are all one, time present. The great myths, the great religions, all teach this fundamental lesson, though often it is cloaked in mystery and ritual difficult to unwind.
When Al Jesness brought in this video of a great blue heron on its quest for food in the waters of Stony Brook, I was fascinated. First, that he was witness to this moment, had the patience and foresight to keep watching no matter how quiet or still or uneventful it seemed. And second, that he knew enough to train his camera on the scene, as if somehow he recognized its potential for being special or revealing a flash of truth.
It’s as though Al followed the lead of the heron and knew that somewhere within the waters he would be rewarded with nourishment in time. We can learn from the heron, too. What we seek is always there before us, if not at our feet, in the air or in the waters. The heron is fully in the moment. It sees what to others is invisible. Its bearing is graceful and elegant, its stance determined and forthright, not marred by panic or confusion or need so much as guided by experience and a certainty that he will find his mark.
If we are still long enough and willing to observe Nature unencumbered by fear or desire, she will reveal Herself to us. The same can be said of beauty and truth. The video shows us a slice of reality we would miss otherwise. The swallowing of the fish whole seems at first distasteful and ugly, possibly even shocking. But upon a second or third viewing it becomes at once exhilarating and then calming and even beautiful, as though we realize that this is the way life works, that we too will be swallowed some day, and this is both necessary and good. It’s a solemn recognition that we are an integral part of the overall puzzle in which nothing is wasted and no one piece is more important than any other.