Hearts open like flowers at passing birds


I would like to be able to show you how a bird at dawn flew past my window and how by that simple act my heart opened like a flower.

Was it the light perhaps? The faintest summer-pink against a blue that was just birthing.

Or was it the distance? Far enough that the bird took a long moment to pass, but too far to identify, to say only that it was one bird among the many birds.

Was it both light and distance? Because in that moment the bird was at a place where I felt, between us, a finely-spun thread. The thread was not too slack, or I would not have felt it, nor was it too tight or it might have broken before it appeared in that cant of light.

The connection placed me within a Psalm. The one about having wings like a dove, about flying away, about being at peace. A thought that must be common among birds.

But the moment passes—of course. It leaves, first, a wondering, then a wandering impression, then, later, a suspicion, like a face in a falling mirror, and finally, over time, it registers doubt that hearts open like flowers at passing birds.

The tensile light of that moment will not be back. Yet it left a question: what if, outside this window, everyone could be trusted?

What if every neighbour was considerate, and every stranger kind and every friend true? And then, what if you were such a neighbour, such a stranger, such a friend?

Perhaps flowers bleed away if they don’t open; and hearts die for want of flight; and a moment meant for eternity evaporates without a pen.

And perhaps these wars I read of, that happen outside my window, and then inside my head, will one day end.

Today I have a powerful desire to visit Hölderlin. See him in his wooden tower writing verses for children, signing them with fantastic names using great flourishes with his pen.

And I would ask him about the mystic beauty of his late poetry; I would have him again convince me to settle into the mystery of hope, and the reality of passing birds.

Have him read to me his:
“Near is
and difficult to grasp, the God.
But where danger threatens
that which saves from it also grows.



  1. thank you for causing me to recall a recent moment when my heart was so lightly touched and still opened just like that… it takes so little and yet it means so much.

  2. Thanks, Steve – I had to look up Holderlin; loved the “a moment meant for eternity evaporates without a pen.”

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