I can hear the rooks and jackdaws busy gathering twigs for their nests in the trees above my window. The Buddha, it is said, was so still in meditation that the birds were able to nest in his hair. Similarly, St Kevin, an early Irish saint, was so calm when praying with his arms outstretched that a blackbird came and built a nest in his hand, laid her eggs and went on to hatch them. Images of how the mind can become steady, settled in the present moment, even in the midst of so much change and ongoing challenges.
Nothing can help you more than a trained mind, not even your loving parents.
We can make our minds
so like still water
that beings gather about us
that they may see,
it may be, their own images,
and live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life
because of our quiet,
W.B Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.
Seamus Heaney, St Kevin and the Blackbird
Statue of Saint Kevin by Timothy P Schmalz at Knock taken from Knock Shrine website