My Cardinal Lesson July 16, 2021

He’s still here. The cardinal that I first wrote about in the blog entitled “Bird Brained” on 28 May 2021 is still here.  We have all grown weary of his attacks on the windows in our sanctuary. Our reasons are varied.  For some, his pecking distracts us while we’re meditating.  For others, he’s just a nuisance.  For still others – perhaps those with more compassionate hearts – they’re worried about the damage he is doing to himself.  For me, he is just one more call to awaken on an endless journey to enlightenment.

As Mr. Cardinal was banging on the windows during church last Sunday, I observed the reactions of those present in the sanctuary.  It was apparent that nearly everyone wanted it to stop.  Whenever everyone wants something, I’ve come to realize that there might be a lesson for me to learn.  I made myself stop wanting the situation to be anything other than what it was: A male cardinal pecking at the window.  For the first time in six weeks, I didn’t want anything from the situation.  I didn’t want to make him stop. I didn’t want to use his behavior as a way to focus my awareness. I didn’t want everyone to ignore him.  I just accepted that this was the way it was.  Mr. Cardinal had decided to peck on our window indefinitely.

Not wanting to change anything about the situation gave me instant peace.  I felt this peace not only for myself but also for all those with me in the sanctuary.  I  learned a powerful lesson by realizing that it was entirely possible to allow what was happening without my identifying with it.  That’s when it hit it:  Mr. Cardinal was there FOR me!  What was he trying to teach me with his insistent tilting at the windmill of our sanctuary windows?

It was apparent early on that Mr. Cardinal saw his reflection in our windows. Thinking his reflection was another male cardinal, our Mr. had set out to defend his territory.  We had tried everything we could think of to deter him from this battle.  The problem was that we couldn’t convince him that he had nothing to fear; that there was, in fact, no “other” there!

If you’ve ever felt like you were beating yourself up, then you may be ready for this lesson.  Just like Mr. Cardinal, we often attack ourselves as if we were the enemy.  I can think of many times when I “beat myself up.”  Here are just a few:  When I’ve behaved in a way that is not aligned with my values; when I think I’ve acted stupidly or recklessly; and, when I fail to meet my own impossible standards.  The problem with this is that those versions of myself are not the REAL ME.  Just as the reflection is not the enemy to Mr. Cardinal, those less awake versions of me are not my enemy.  I don’t have to fight with myself over those versions. I just have to wake up and realize that they are not ME!

We spend years struggling with our Imaginary Selves. Those indistinct reflections of our True Selves.  These reflections are distorted by the mind-made self, the self we think we are, because we keep telling ourselves stories that bolster that belief.  When we stop listening to the inner chatter and experience the Essence within, we realize the untouched beauty of our Real Selves.   For most of us, this is as close to the Infinite as we will get in this lifetime.  Thanks to Mr. Cardinal, we might all be a little bit closer to seeing ourselves as we really are.

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