Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wild and Beautiful

I love the word delight, meaning ‘of the light’ or, ‘that which gives forth light’.  One “delight” of my trip to Australia was getting to see the little penguins on Philip Island, about 90 minutes from Melbourne.  Philip Island is home to one of the largest little penguin colonies in the world.

At sunset these wild little creatures rise up out of the sea where they have been fishing during the day.  Because they are so small they need to be cautious about predators; for this reason they wait until dusk to return to their nesting places in the dunes above the ocean shore.  At dusk people gather on bleachers to await the arrival of the little penguins.  We were asked to wait in silence.  We were also asked not to take photos.  (the photos used here are borrowed from online sites)  At first I was annoyed that I couldn't photograph but I soon saw the wisdom of this. Constant photographing, even without flash, can be such a distraction and something is lost from the profound experience of being in the NOW. Thus sitting in silence, waiting for the little penguins became a spiritual experience.  It was especially moving to see so many people being quiet together and I thought of how often I ask people in the retreats I lead to just wait in silence…to wait for whatever might rise up in their soul during the waiting time.  As I sat on the bleachers waiting, I was filled with a spirit of wonder.  It was a kind of theophany to sit in silence with strangers, yet knowing that in many ways we were kin: hearts full of delight, joy, grief, sorrow, love, confusion, hearts probably filled with more questions than answers.  All waiting for something wild and beautiful to rise up out of the sea!
Then suddenly we saw the first group of penguins gathering at the seashore.   Huddled in a small group of about 15 or 20, they cautiously waddled across the beach.  Then all my stranger-friends appeared to be delighted.   For about 45 minutes in different intervals of time and numbers they came in little processions.   

And you, whoever you are, 
spend a little time waiting today.  
Wait for something wild and beautiful 
to rise up out of your soul.