New year, new idea! I thought that, from time to time, it would be a hoot (pardon the pun) to share something entertaining and “Just for Fun,” so I’ve created a special new category just for those occasions. This story, which I hope could grow up to be a fully illustrated children’s book someday, evolved out of an animal divination I did several years ago. I was using cards then, instead of stones, and pulled two to answer a question that I can’t even remember. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, those cards were the Owl and the Whale. The meanings of the individual animals were immediately clear and obvious, but what fascinated me most was the relationship between them. Talk about two animals not likely to “meet” in the wild! This story became my attempt to envision that meeting: how could it happen, and how might each of these wise creatures be affected and changed by that chance encounter?
Owl reached the branch of the tall tree on the cliff above the sea just before dawn. It was a short flight from the forest where she lived and a pleasant place to muse and dream after the night’s hunt.
Lulled by the rhythm of the sea below, Owl settled into the peace and silence and let her thoughts drift upon the winds. Soon she could tell where the currents of air merged with those of the sea, and her awareness drew closer and closer to the big water. She heard a deep toning from beneath the waves and recognized it as the voice of a vast being just below the surface of the sea.
Air and Water carried Owl’s query beneath the waves, where Whale heard and pondered the question. Finally, he raised his huge head and sang Himself in answer. He sang the name that only he knew, the name that conveyed the most basic truth of his soul. “I am I” is what the whale’s song said.
“Who?” asked Owl.
At once Whale realized his mistake. “Of course,” he thought. “What good does it do to sing the song of my uniqueness to someone who has no knowledge of my kind of being?” So Whale sang of his self, his nature. He sang of the age and majesty of the whale-kind. He sang of the pleasures, the graces, sorrows, fears, accomplishments and destiny of his race. It was a wondrous song. Whale was sure he had answered Owl in fullness and beauty.
“Who?” asked Owl, still unsatisfied.
“How can I make you understand?” wondered Whale. Then he realized. “Of course. What good does it do to sing the song of my uniqueness or the nature of my kind to someone who cannot comprehend the very element in which I live, someone who knows only earth and sky? “ So, Whale sang again. He sang long and lovingly of the sea, of its strength and tenderness, it’s power, passion and beauty, it’s lights and shadows and the ever-changing flow of it’s life. He sang of the countless other creatures that make the sea their home, and of the long evolution of life from the sea to the land and sky. Whale sang of the way all of the life force of the whole planet merges together in the sea, generating its constant pulse. He sang of the way the sea carries the messages of earth and sky to every other part of earth and sky, connecting the whole planet, all the life everywhere on earth and nourishing it. When Whale finally finished singing he had sung all that he knew, all that he had and all that he was. He felt fulfilled and at peace. He knew that if he had not given Owl her answer, it was not within his power to give. He waited patiently for Owl’s reply.
Owl was silent, her queries spent, her wisdom enriched by Whale’s songs. The sun’s light was just breaking through the red and purple cracks in the night sky.
With slow magnificence, Owl spread her wings and cast herself upon the wind. She soared high, and then dropped down, circling the deep water below. Once, twice, three times she circled, and then flew off toward the cliffs and her forest home, carrying with her the resonant echoes of Whale’s songs.
Whale felt the splendor of Owl’s response with gladness and pride. Slowly, with equal majesty, he cast himself upon the waves. He rode into the sea’s depths toning thoughtfully a new song of the fearless, soaring beauty of Owl’s flight.
Copyright 2016 Dara Tuell