Sabbath’s Silence

The silence in the pine forest weighed heavily upon the biota that resided there, spreading like a contagion throughout each member of its body. What was its cause? Was it torpor? Dread? Or, was it a desperate hope of a prayer so intense, all sound had collapsed into its bones?

In its midst, a voice broke the stillness. One voice, and one voice only.

The voice was that of a tiny bird of prey, one so small she could be overlooked. Known in these parts as a ‘Northern saw-whet owl’, she could be seen as many things, depending on who did the observing, or who was doing the hiding.

She was a prey to some. To others, a predator. A totem, and a symbol, to yet another cadre of life forms. The owl was what the beholder molded her to be. Yet she spoke her mind, regardless of the caste that others tried to yoke upon her. One voice, and one voice only.

Too-too-too-too. Too-too-too-too. Too-too-too-too.

Over and over, repeatedly. The same phrase. The same prayer? Insistently. Persistently. A tiny prophet, preaching to a chorus that lay still for her.

Awakened in the bath of light, all things altered: her night had become day, and day the night.

A congregant, taller than the rest of those fauna present and bipedal in structure, stood in an archway that led to a habitat designed for her top-heavy frame, watching the tiny owl. Could this strange life form see what was hidden? Or was her devotion towards the owl a deception of reverence, to be forgotten once it was out of sight?

No answer was forthcoming. Perhaps, the answer did not matter. Were not many questions like these nothing more than koans that vanished like a mist consumed by an inferno? If there was an answer, would it matter any more than the root that caused the question to even be asked?

Questions like these, they were the symptom that gave rise to the reality that once observed, a subject changed. So, how could truth be discerned by judgments disguised as objectivity?

The owl spoke, the biped listened. This was what was present.

An intensity of several vibrations deeper than the forest’s silence passed between them, the owl in her perch, the congregant at her post.

Something passed between them as they eyed each other. Then the owl and the top-heavy biped disappeared simultaneously, as though the predator of the night and that of the day concluded a surreal concert that contained no music. It was as though the audience of the urgent prophecy the bird of prey needed to reach had gotten the message. And, that it had been intended for an audience of one.

In the aftermath of the predators’ departure, the strange silence overtook the pine forest once again, seeping into pores of soil and into the minerals of the land, absorbed by each and every cell that proclaimed itself to be alive in whatever fashion it lay claim to.

If you had been the victim of any distraction, you would stand at the scene and not believe that an owl had just spoken, and a biped derived from the primate family had been listening to her message. Even more incredulous to believe, would be that the top-heavy creature (whose species had a bad reputation around these parts for being more obtuse than granite) could even manage to visually detect the small animal. One that usually remained hidden, even from the most observant of fauna. It would seem like a tall tale that the two were even there to begin with.

The gravity of the peculiar stillness weighed heavily upon the land.

All those faithful to the niche they had been assigned to were now at rest. All those who had deviated, well, they would have their rest too, in due course. One way or another, sabbath’s silence would have its way.

All was silent now, and waiting.

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