When Raphael first came into my life he was still an adolescent; curious, full of energy and a little distressed about being separated from the rest of the chooks. Raphael had escaped the machete and kept his head – a feat which both of his buddies had failed to accomplish. Their fate had led them straight into the soup pot, but that’s another story for another day.
One night I was up late, energized by the bright moonlight beaming through the open house when a terrible squawking erupted outside and I looked out the window to see Raphael leaping, not quite flying yet, across the lawn at full speed with a huge wild pig in hot pursuit. They tore into the bushes, screeching, grunting and crashing through thick branches and I was sure that the pig would make his kill. But in the morning there was Raphael, scratching and pecking at the grass peacefully as if nothing had happened. There was no doubt about it – Raphael was a survivor!
He soon became a regular part of the household; running out to greet me when I came home from work, climbing into the Gramichami tree to roost in the evenings and sitting under the house, feathers fluffed up, making soft chook chook noises. Then of course, one day it just happened. Suddenly, without warning I was woken up in the darkness before dawn to an unmistakable, impossibly loud crowing right outside my bedroom. Raphael was all grown up and he was telling the whole world.
The crowing continued on into the day (Raphael was pretty proud of his new voice) and he enthusiastically hopped up onto the outdoor furniture as he experimented with height and vocal projection. As I watched his antics I started to wonder about our instinctual nature. I considered our behaviour – some of which is learned, but a great deal is instinctual and arises spontaneously from within. There is a primal intelligence encoded in our DNA, I remembered, a complex set of instructions for our growth and development. One day we are content with sitting on the warm earth going chook chook chook, the next day we are leaping from chair to table waking up the entire neighbourhood. It seems that our own evolution sometimes takes us by surprise.
An artist came to me for a tarot reading at the markets one Sunday and shared an inspiring story. She was feeling tired one afternoon and lay down for a nap. She saw a figure walk into the room, say to her “its time to wake up” and calmly walk out. When she awoke she began to write. Already painting as a hobby, she expected her story to evolve into something expressed on canvas, but she continued to write. The day that I met her she had written three entire books which were on their way to publishing along with the cover art.
There are certain times in our lives when evolution kicks in. Maybe we meet someone who inspires us to get started on a project we have only been talking about. Perhaps we encounter the shock of illness or the death of someone close to us and it causes us to reassess our priorities. Occasionally a ‘misfortune’ like losing your job or partner sets you off in a new direction. Sometimes, if we are lucky, someone walks into the room and says, its time to wake up.
Raphael strutted up and down, stopping only long enough to find his balance before emitting another raucous crow. His body was tense with the effort, neck arched back, beak stretched wide and he drew the sound from somewhere deep within his feathered bony frame. As I watched his energetic dance, geometric spirals snaked into my vision. Twisting ladders led me down into a crystalline matrix and the crowing grew fainter, softer, farther away. I drifted through an intricate array of cellular constructs; floating spheres filled with coloured lights, angular structures which replicated themselves bigger and then smaller again. As I traveled I felt all of my concerns and worries and stresses fall away. It had been a busy year, heck, several busy years of working hard and striving to accomplish my own personal goals. I felt like lifetimes were being stripped off me, layers of experience, perspective, existence, floating, drifting, flying……and then it stopped. There was silence. Stillness. Presence. Nothing else.
I waited. In the void there is no time. Nothing happening. Nothing at all. Just peace. The steady rhythm of breath. It was clear – everything originates from here. Every action begins in stillness, every thought arises from emptiness. When we strip the canvas bare we discover a whole world of new possibilities waiting to be expressed – a new beginning, the chance for a fresh start. I sat there for a long time in perfect stillness, just being. The sky darkened and I felt the air grow cooler. In my vision I saw a single point of light emerging from the darkness and it was then that I heard a familiar call from far far away. A wave of recognition washed over me. It was the raw sound of a rooster’s crow.