I took my ESL class outside for a short writing exercise about autumn. I had asked them to write about the current weather, and then tell the rest of the class three things they saw that were signs of the season. After they began, I took a look around myself, noticing the bare tree limbs, and fallen leaves of various shades of orange and red.
Then I heard a call. Shifting my eyes, suddenly all I saw was crow – a very large one, perched atop a tree across the street.
I forgot my class for a little while.
The sun had fallen behind the houses, and there was a slight, cool wind: just enough to make the skin shiver.
I found myself standing still. The crow was also still and, occasionally, very loud. Almost too loud to be viewed as just another bird in a tree making noise.
It sat on the edge of a thin reed of wood, now silent, now squawking. In its silence, I heard my students’ discussion vocabulary, struggling to string together sentences in a second language, as the crow and I took in the world together.
One last time, the sound of that crow cawing rattled its way through my body, reminding me to pay attention to my life just as it is. And as crow talk went silent again, I noticed the student talking had quieted down, and the writing had almost stopped.
I turned and saw one of the women in my class. She asked me a question, and I responded.
During that time, the crow disappeared. But its words – and silence – are here with me now.
The Crow by Baban Shyam via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
First published at Life As A Human
Guest Author Bio
Nathan Thompson blogs at dangerousharvests.com, which features writings about zen Buddhism, yoga, social justice and politics, the arts, and life in general.
Nathan writes: “It is difficult to summarize who I am, given that the “hats” I wear are diverse, and life itself is always changing. I have been a student of zen meditation for over eight years, and a yoga practitioner for a good part of the last decade. I am an ESL teacher, an editor of an on-line literary journal, a nearly year round bicyclist, a gardener, a non-profit board member, a political questioner, a life questioner, and sometimes a dreamer.”