Is it only a dropped feather?

Bird Droppings February 19, 2022

Is it only a dropped feather?

“If we consider the eagle feather with its light and dark colors, we could argue that ‘the dark colors are more beautiful and, therefore, naturally more valuable,’ or vice versa. Regardless of which colors are more beautiful, or necessary, or valuable, the truth is the bottom line: Both colors come from the same feather, both are true, they are connected, and it takes both to fly.” Dr. Michael Garrett, Medicine of the Cherokee

A seemingly inconsequential event is that of a bird dropping a feather only to be found along the way by someone like you or me. I am always amazed at how special that moment becomes. Maybe back when I started this morning venture of rising early to journal, read, and write for me, it was a way of dropping feathers, and it seems nearly every day, one or two emails reinforce my thoughts.

Earlier today, I saw a post on a group I am a member of on Facebook, Native American Spirituality. Someone from the group was asking about the appearance of a hawk, and the hawk came and sat next to her and looked her in the eye. A few moments ago, I was sitting on my back porch, and a dove panicked and flew almost against the screen of the porch. Within a second, a hawk was swooping in and barely avoided the screen as well. I am always excited by the presence of hawks; seeing the hawk so close to the house was very exciting to me. I paused a second and thought had I gotten up only a few seconds sooner and gone inside, and I would have missed this event. We are often meant to be at a particular place at a specific time. Carl Jung called this synchronicity.

“All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason WakanTanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here by WakanTanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself.” Shooter, Teton Sioux

Several years ago, we had several large ferns on our front porch. I was checking the ferns and forgot about the nest of purple finches which had adopted our ferns and front porch; three babies sat there looking at me as I checked the fern for moisture, surprising me as much as I them. Three tiny babies were sitting huddled in a fern basket, all expecting breakfast, and it was only me. As I think back, I am not sure who was the most scared, me by the shock of three hungry mouths gaping or those tiny birds with a big hand poking in, checking the moisture of the fern.

“We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit.” Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker

It has been a few years since my first trip to Piedmont college, and I am sure there will be many more to come as I am working on my doctorate in conjunction with several faculty members at Piedmont. However, that first trip was meeting the Dean of Education for acceptance into the School of Education when I was working on my master’s degree. It seems I had forgotten getting accepted into the education department required an interview. That aspect of my journey, something you are to do first rather than last, to be accepted into the education school. As I left the education building, walking to the parking lot, a flock of geese met me walking along weeding as they do across lawns at Piedmont back before the lake was drained, fifty or so Canadian geese scurrying about looking for tender shoots in the morning coolness. As I walked a bit down crossed my path a tiny feather. I picked it up, and my immediate thought was of Forrest Gump sitting on a bench waiting for a bus and the feather that starts and ends the movie.

I thought deeper as I saved the feather and still have it pressed in a book on my shelf. So often, that little bit, that tiny piece of fluff that we often miss does not have to be a feather; it could be a kind word, a handshake, or a certificate from first grade for spelling everything right, and it can provide the catalyst for the next day and some a lifetime. As a teacher, parent, and friend, we often have to drop a feather now and again, a tiny piece of fluff to keep another person going. I ran a Day Camp program in my backyard many years back, Camp Ringtail. I share quotes daily, and yesterday I shared one that struck a note with a good friend. He was named principal of the year several years back by the Washington Post. “I had this quote on my office wall for many years. I sat next to Mrs. Graham at a dinner many years ago. She was a big supporter of public education. She encouraged me to be a principal. I received the Washington Post Distinguished Education Leadership Award (Principal of the Year) many years later. Mrs. Graham had passed by then, but I gave her lots of credit at the Washington Post ceremony for motivating me to be a principal. I also told the audience I received two important awards in my life that served as bookends to my career. The first was Camper of the Year at Camp Ringtail, and the second was the Post Award!” Rob Hindman

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren, and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves, such as the birds, animals, fish, and trees.” Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

In primitive societies, a feather can be sacred and holy. The Aztecs made the cloak for the king from Quetzal feathers emerald green iridescent, and no one else could even own one of these feathers under penalty of death. Native Americans would use feathers as signs of bravery and honor, awarding an eagle feather for counting coop, which is not killing your enemy, simply touching and riding away, and other great acts of bravery. I am intrigued as we now wage war often from an office with drones and smart bombs. What a battle that must have been back in the day to see a brave ride in touch a few people and ride out.

We have come so far in today’s world we “nuke em” no need to touch, no need for honor for a bit of fluff blowing along the ground as I walked about my yard a few nights back getting some exercise along with my wife. She checked her plants to see if any bulbs were sprouting, and a feather caught my attention. It was a black tail feather from a crow. My day was made as I placed it on my desk with a hawk feather and owl feather from previous walks. It is the tiny pieces that count on our journeys. So, for today, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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