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A Spiritual Swamp Hen

Updated: Mar 2

Lives at my place

A swamp hen taking a step in muddy grass.
The swamp hen at Evergreen that reminds me to be less hectic, more "spiritual".

A spiritual swamp hen lives at my wetlands property.

How do I know it’s spiritual?

It walks slowly and meditatively. It pauses mid-stride, balancing on one damp, slimy, clawed foot, holding the other several centimeters off the ground for many seconds before putting it carefully down on the freshly mowed lawn by the pond. Every peck at the ground is done with studied precision. There’s nothing hectic in its movements. In contrast, the mad coots play war games between the reeds, never happy.

Some mornings this swamp hen comes right up to the sliding glass door, turns its head at an interrogative angle and regards me with a kind, perceptive eye. I even detect a gleam of empathic pity at my tousled morning appearance as I scoot around the kitchen frantically concocting breakfast and lunch before hurrying off to work.

Sometimes I spy it in the rear vision mirror as it positions itself in the centre of the driveway, deliberately delaying my speedy exit. Its whole body poses the question, ‘What’s the rush?’ And a quiet voice in my head says, ‘Slow down, Marlane.

Yes, it’s definitely a spiritual swamp hen – sent to earth to show me a better way to live.

Spiritual Qualities

If I asked you to give me a list of what you consider to be spiritual qualities, you’d probably include things like love, peacefulness, silence, acceptance, compassion.

These qualities are packed inside that swamp hen like dominoes in their original packaging. Why can’t I have them too?

The simple answer is, I can.

I just have to choose to express them, moment by moment.

Whatever is happening around me, I can choose to be still or frantic; loving or hateful; peaceful or divisive; silent or obtrusively loud. I can accept or deny; be compassionate or judgmental.

I can be spiritual, or I can be a pain in the neck to life on earth.

Maybe sometimes that swamp hen has a bad night’s sleep and wakes up with a headache. Or his love life isn’t going so well because he notices little Ms Swamp Hen flicking her tail at another. Or the reed shoots he likes to include in his daily dietary intake aren’t as tasty as they were last year. Or the mad coots are at it again, disturbing the peace of the morning because they don’t believe in sharing.

But the spiritual swamp hen inhales a deep breath, takes one more watery step, curves its beak into a birdy smile, and accepts the situation. Then he decides to go and take another look at that strange lady in the wooden house on the hill. She needs his help.

With love, Marlane

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