Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
TITLE: Bursting Before Me
By Patrick Oden
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I go outside, out onto the deck where the sky is still dark and the birds are still silent. There is no use in trying to force my way into this day. There is only to seek what I cannot now find.
I sit and I try to pray, my words hollow and wan, rising nowhere. The silence is an oppression. I know this to be a reflection of my soul, not God. Only how do I rise out of this dark cloud, so I can see and hear and rejoice? My heart lies heavy within me. My prayers become heavy sighs.
A gust of air lifts the branches near me. I stop my wrestling and look at the trees in the barest of morning light. The sky has become a dark blue rather than black. I see scattered clouds on the horizon reflecting the light of an approaching sun. I breathe in deeply. I exhale. I breathe in deeply. I exhale.
Off in the distance a chickadee tests his voice. The early bird sings. Another closer by echoes with a short song of his own. I listen, hearing more voices and try to put a name to their various whistles, and tweets, and screeches. The blue grows lighter. The clouds become whiter.
There is a tripled caw, answered soon by another. The ravens are awake. I see one soaring over a nearby ridge, rising with the gusts of air, then diving low with sheer exuberance of flight.
The breeze picks up and becomes steady. Cedar branches around me begin to dance. Birds now awake flit around from tree to tree, each with their own part and voice.
Steller’s jays erupt in a cacophony of screeching. There must be a coyote or bobcat or maybe merely an argument over territory. It doesn’t take much for the jays to get worked up.
The ground becomes active with squirrels making use of the dawn light to gather seeds and acorns. Two robins bound through the tree across from me and then onto the ground, tilting their heads after a couple of steps watchful for a beetle or worm. A chipmunk on a stump is less industrious. He squeaks for a friend, his tail swishing with each call. I see another climbing the low branches of a fir sapling. We’ll hear him in a moment. There. He answers with more staccato chirps.
In the west the sky is still blue. In the east it is now almost white. All birds are now quite busy. The breeze turns to a wind. I still listen and I watch.
A flock of band tailed pigeons burst out of a tall pine, surprising me with their numbers and noise, for I hadn’t any idea it was so crowded. The sun begins to brighten the tops of the tallest trees.
With the wind growing in strength new sounds are added to the forest music. A faint whistle rises and falls with each gust. The pines are adding their voices. Above me and around me is the heavier whoosh of breeze through cedars. I hear the wind play the trees, the sound growing from far away then approaching like a flash flood. The gust hits me. All the trees dance and sing, their branches clapping with the force of air. Pines whistle, cedars whoosh, and then with this newest gust I hear the oaks.
It is a rattle, their heavy broad leaves shaking a steady percussion, giving texture to the higher and middle tones.
The birds continue to chat and sing, joined by chipmunks and squirrels and cedars and pines and oaks. The sun rises over the hill to the east, bathing me in its warm soothing light. I close my eyes and nod my head with the rhythm of the forest harmony.
The Spirit whispers peace into my soul. Ah, there. The melody begins.
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