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LITTLE GUSTAV

by

Zane Maser

There is so much in nature which can fill us, day and night, through plants,
animals and flowers, with the eternal in life
.
Carl G. Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst


Meet Gustav, one of the scrub jays that frequents our garden. But Gustav is a jay of a different character, for he is physically disabled. His left leg is injured, so he has to support himself on one leg, which uses a tremendous amount of his energy just to stay upright. Watching him perched on the thin wood board of one of our framed, raised vegetable beds is, for me, a sad, heart-wrenching moment. He looks so guiltless and young and small, as the rain drenches him, making him periodically fluff up his feathers in an attempt to stay warm and dry. He looks so vulnerable as he cranes and swivels his head in constant vigilance for a predator seeking such a weakened, defenseless prey.

Tears roll down my cheeks for this beloved little bird as I gaze out our bathroom window, hoping he has found the easy meal of walnut pieces and suet that we have left especially for him. His innocent presence in our yard, as he struggles in his movements, now a chore rather than the easy grace they once were, is an opportunity to open our hearts in sympathy and mercy toward one who is not perfect in body or entirely safe or self-sufficient. White Eagle tells us that 'as you can feel the pain and suffering of your fellow creatures you are developing the Christ within. Do not be ashamed of your feelings. They are the pointers, the guides which direct you along the path of light.' Surely one of the vital parts of the work that we do in this Lodge is to hold all suffering creatures within our hearts with love and compassion.

My husband, Chris, who has studied and written about animals for over 30 years, tells me the grim reminder that jays, as well as other species, such as some rodents and birds that have a scavenger lifestyle, will sometimes attack, kill, and eat individuals of their own kind who are injured or weakened. Chris says that 'nature is designed to obey the impartial, biophysical principles,' and to many of us humans, this 'neutrality' often wounds and hurts our hearts deeply. This apparent lack of mercy and caretaking, according to our human ethics, can even be incomprehensible to grasp for our human minds.

Yet, how often do people consider themselves 'above' the animals in their own behavior? Are there times when we push away any thought or admission that we can act in both unthinking and cruel ways in a moment of impatience or irritability or tiredness? How many times in our society are the sick, impoverished, disabled, mentally-ill, learning-impaired, or old, to name a few, marginalized and sometimes left to fend for themselves? Are we humans the ones who always show 'our own kind' mercy and compassion? Or are there subtle moments of haste and unconsciousness when we simply avoid or deny or repress that which is too uncomfortable? 'Brotherhood,' according to White Eagle, 'cannot be only brotherhood to those you like, towards your friends. It must be to life itself:  to every created thing.'

If we are not constantly aware of practicing brotherhood, our behavior can be as slight as a minor, niggling criticalness all the way to a glaring omission through thoughtlessness. This can perhaps be a poignant exercise if we are ever on the receiving end of ourselves—as the boomerang of karma inevitably reappears as a wake-up bonk on the head when we are unmindful of the things we set in motion! When we are called to experience any kind of difficulty or setback or limiting disability, like little Gustav, in whatever form and however slight, we hope that we will be extended the hand of gentle understanding and patient warmth rather than one of cold, impatient indifference. These are, of course, the extremes of reaction and behavior on the continuum of meeting ourselves. The point is that we must be aware when we drift to the end of criticism and judgment in even slight ways if we are to fully awaken to our stature as spiritual beings learning our hard-won lessons on earth. When we practice in daily life our specific lessons, such as patience, trust, or learning to listen better, only then are we able to assess how deeply we are learning or have learned the lesson(s). Sometimes, if we are honest, it is a rude shock of how far we still have to go on the learning curve.

Nike, the corporate shoe and sport giant, uses the energetic slogan, "Just Do It." We may think and feel with our heart in brotherly ways (and this is vital at the causal level), but do we actively, through our daily behavior, create compassionate and non-judgmental effects? Do we actually walk our talk? Are we aware of the ripples we are creating by our acts, not only with our animal brethren but also with one another? Further, how we treat ourselves is equally important—why is it that the mercy or forgiveness we would grant another is so often withheld from ourselves? White Eagle would say gently:  'Put aside all temptation to harbour unkind or critical thought. In their place let there be consideration and thoughtfulness, remembering the difficulties that all, including yourselves, have to encounter.'

The little angels, such as Gustav the scrub jay, which God has given us in animal form, add immeasurable brightness, joy, and love to our lives. May we, as the humans who share this planet with our animal brothers, be their trusted guardians to live in harmony and balance with their requirements for living and to maintain as intact as possible a quality environment in which they can prosper—even in our own backyards, where so much beauty can be created. White Eagle helps us to keep alive in our hearts our high purpose and active commitment to the sacred One-ness of all life, 'Let us give sympathy, love and friendship, brotherhood, companionship, to all creatures, human, animal, etheric. This is our work.' This is truly the Work that each one of us has been called forth to do—and in this we must, with humility, keep on keeping on. Only by such persistence is it possible to heal the widespread suffering that is caused through a lack of consciousness and to allow our spirits to shine so that all darkness is eventually consumed in the Light of Love.


©

© Zane Maser 2003.

This article was published in Drumbeat, Journal of the White Eagle Lodge (Canada), Volume 11, pages 8-9 (August 2003).

For more information, visit The White Eagle Lodge, Canada

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