A heron has been frequenting my garden – destination – the pond.
Frequenting – every morning for a fortnight, by my observations.
Some days three times in one morning.
There are over forty fish in the pond.
It’s netted, plastic-fenced, but not totally secure.
I know when the heron has visited, even when I’ve not seen it.
The fish disappear to the bottom of the pond.
Invisible, no longer basking in the sun.
When I come to feed them, they are no longer swimming just below the surface, anticipating me.
They no longer rise when I scatter the food.
The heron has visited and frightened the fish.
Later, I check, and the food has gone.
The fish are still there.
But my neighbour tells me he saw the heron last week, catch and eat a fish.
I become obsessive, check when I draw back the curtains on rising.
I go downstairs, make tea, get some muesli, return to the meditation room, settle to read.
Check every five minutes at the bedroom window.
On one such check this morning the heron was there, stalking, up to the edge of the pond.
It noticed me, lifted off,
flapped its way the few yards to the roof of the garden studio,
settled to wait, challenging.
I went downstairs, out of the side door.
The heron had already flown, landed in the field, not far off.
I walked to the garden fence.
It took to the air, flying further off, landing at the end of the field, head and neck visible.
It wasn’t giving up.
Nor was I.
We’ve been playing this game almost every morning recently.
I returned to my tea and finished the pot,
checking every five minutes.
It returned to my end of the field.
I decided my permanent, visible presence was required.
I went back to the garden and settled in the far corner to meditate.
I could see the heron, half way down the field, head and neck just visible, unmoving.
I set the timer, the gong sounded.
I contemplated the field, grasses waving, trees patient along the stream,
Salisbury Plain rising in the blue morning haze.
I breathed deep into my belly, followed the energy down to my feet and toes,
grounded, present, alive, energy flowing,
open to the sacred presence, the divine, flowing and enriching within,
Infinite, unconditional love.
I lifted awareness to my belly, breathed in goodness and nourishment, closed my eyes.
Seven minutes passed.
I remembered the heron, opened my eyes, glanced right.
It was still there, unmoved and unmoving, patient, waiting, attentive.
I closed my eyes, returned within, to the other presence, in my body,
moved attention up to my solar plexus and diaphragm, settled into silence,
breathed in strength and courage, flowing through the centre of my body,
life and energy flowing.
I remembered the heron,
opened my eyes, glanced right, heron still there, unmoved, sentinel.
I closed my eyes, returned within,
lifted my attention to my heart, to love, unconditional, infinite, healing, flowing, energising,
breathing into and within my heart, immersed in heart energy,
love energy, generated within my heart.
More minutes passed.
I remembered the heron again,
opened my eyes, glanced right, still . . .
I’m conscious of myself and my presence in the garden,
conscious of the divine other, the infinite, divine, infused and infusing,
beauty and glory visible,
the heron haunting me, still there, unmoved,
a divine – or a persecuting presence?
A distraction from the sacred, the present and the presence?
In relationship with the sacred?
Connected, now, in my relationship with the sacred.
I closed my eyes one last time, moved up from my heart to my mind,
to the flow of wisdom, visions and dreams, imagination, inspiration,
synapses buzzing, whole body energy flowing, alive.
The gong sounds, thirty minutes have passed.
I pause, eyes closed, attentive to the mood – and the sounds, birdsong, traffic in the distance.
Is it still there?
I open my eyes. It is.
Observing thirty minutes of meditation with me.
Patient, eyes on the prize.
I rose from my chair, the heron lifted off, casually, flapped leisurely to the north,
circled left, along the western edge of the field, turned east along the river, disappeared behind trees.
S/he often lands there, to wait again, patiently, for me to abandon my post.
This morning, s/he flew on, beyond the river, behind more trees, towards the east.
It might be back tomorrow.
Time now to think about bishops.