Welcome to my Wilderness Journal

You may enjoy my September 2012 blog: Sharing Experiences of Great Mystery, which describes the purpose of this wilderness log, photo-art gallery, and poetry corner. In Peace, Bob

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Modoc National Wildlife Refuge: The Nighthawk



Sandhill Cranes Internet Image: www.kewlwallpapers.com

 Journal Introduction

Mystical experiences are always serendipitous blessings. Without warning the mind chatter stops and the veil of ego separating inner and outer experience falls. And our senses, which usually isolate us behind a skin boundary, unexpectedly reveal a seamless world of power, beauty, and harmony. Suddenly something shifts inside us and we find ourselves standing in the midst of eternity beholding creation occurring all around and in us. I know this deeper reality is always there, but I've only entered it through doors of grace that open abruptly in the usual fabric of life.

Though unpredictable, I've found that such experiences occur most often for me in the special light of evening or night. I am almost always alone, usually in a natural place of beauty, and often seeking to resolve life's contradictions and losses.

In early June of 1993 I was in Alturas, California conducting aerial population surveys of Canada geese for California's Department of Fish and Game and I had the following experience late one evening after our day of flying

Journal: June 1993, Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, Alturas, California, Elevation about 4,400' 

My two fellow biologists and I had just finished a mediocre dinner in one of Alturas' few restaurants. We were walking up the wide empty street under the town's monumental and loudly-flapping American flag returning to the Dunes Motel while eating ice cream cones in the evening chill. I noted the spectacular clouds towering all around the mountain-rimmed horizon and asked if anyone wanted to join me for a brief drive to the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. My friends declined so I hopped into the truck wondering if it would be worth it given the darkening sky and the increasingly cold winds. 


Nighthawk Internet Image © blog.michaellibbephotography.com

In a few minutes I had traversed Alturas' eight-block business strip and was turning off the paved road onto the refuge. Suddenly, something like a huge moth leapt up from the muddy road into my headlights. It was a slim grey bird with long wings with striking white markings. It was a nighthawk.


Nighthawk Internet Image: www.schmoker.org

With its silent flight and flashing wings the nighthawk instantly opens an invisible door which I pass through in no time into its world. I know I'm home again. I leave the truck behind and the nighthawk takes me back to other late springs in other mountains and summer loves that passed with autumn's frosts. The nighthawk is a powerful healer of the heart. It flits around me as I walk toward the marsh. It weaves together lost joys and sorrows into one beautiful fabric of many bright and deep hues. The nighthawk stitches together the dark snow-splotched Warner Mountains and the bright wind-buffeted water. It joins the bird-filled marsh to the pearled clouds swirling around the evening's first star high overhead. The nighthawk flies right at me and through me and leaves me sobbing and slowly turning entranced in this cloak of beauty and power.


Internet Image: www.junglewalk.com

There is no distance between me and the black clouds that press on the Warners. The intensity and clarity of the colors, the light, and the sounds pierce my senses. Senser, sensation, and sensed are one. Sandhill cranes bugle somewhere in this dark marsh. Wrens scold and ducks fuss as they settle their evening territorial disputes. Calling Canada geese wing in from the fading western light to disappear into the tules. The marsh and sky and mountains and I breathe as one.


Canada Geese Internet Image © Mike Fladeland

I look up at the moon veiled by the scudding clouds. I am shivering. The western light is gone and darkness has settled in. I've lost track of time and the nighthawk. The Eye of the Soul has dimmed and the Stillness has been broken and I find myself back in fleeting time seeing only duality. I find the truck and open the door. The interior light blinds me and I climb back into my usual world. I turn the engine over and the buzzer warns me to fasten my seatbelt. I drive to the motel full of energy and peace and wonder. 


Journal Update

Such experiences show us that individual and environment are woven of the same threads of awareness, that we are created anew together each moment. This fundamental experience of oneness is what we all hunger for and search so desperately for through all our strivings and addictions. We are much greater than we fear. Nighthawk appears when we are ready to pass through the doors of grace to revisit our greater home and learn again who we truly are.

Poem: The Nighthawk, Alturas, California, June 1993
Driving into the refuge at dusk
You explode into my headlights
Like a giant moth
Leaping up from the muddy road

I pull the pickup over and dowse the lights
climbing out happy to see you again
Mysterious messenger of mountain eves
I have come back

It is you who makes this magic
Weaving together dark mountains, bright water, and rolling clouds
You flit silently across them all
And through me—making us one

I stand sobbing and wordless in the middle of your creation
Looking all around
In beauty I see
All is made new again

Poem: The View from Davis Creek Churchyard, Davis Creek, California, June 1994
This clear heaven
Is my foundation
This green earth
Is my firmament

All around the clouds
Bank up
Cascading high above
The trembling sky-reaching poplar

The nighthawk I heard
Winging for its mate
Courses between me
And the sunstruck clouds

The swallows of childhood
Build again mud nests beneath the eaves
Flitting and twittering through the heavens
Weaving eternally—sun to cloud to blossoming earth   

Poem: Mayan Nighthawk, Roof of Temple IV, Tikal, Guatemala, November 1995
Dragonflies weave the evening sky
The nighthawk parts the veil
Letting the falling sun pour its last light
Into our opened eyes



May all Beings be well, happy, and free! In Peace, Bob


Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.