Sep 25th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Good News in Bad Times

Looking for Good News in Bad Times is illustrated well in a quote from Loren Eisely’s “Singers of Life.”

“When I awoke I was dimly aware of some commotion and outcry in the clearing.  The light was slanting down through the pines in such a way that the glade was lit like some vast cathedral.  I could see the dust motes of wood pollen in the long shaft of light…and there on the extended branch of a dead tree sat an enormous raven with a red and squirming  baby bird in its beak.  The sound that awoke me was the outraged cries of the baby bird’s parents.  They flew helplessly in circles about the clearing.  The sleek monster of a raven was indifferent to them. He gulped, swallowed the little bird, whetted his beak on the branch for a moment and then sat still.

Up to that point the little tragedy had followed the usual pattern.  But suddenly, out of all that area of woodland, a soft sound of complaint began to rise, into the glade fluttered small birds of a half dozen varieties…drawn by the anguished outcries of the tiny parents.  No one dared to attack the raven, but they cried there in some indistinctive common misery.  The bereaved and the un-bereaved.  The glade was filled with their soft rustling and cries.  They fluttered as if to point their wings at the murderer.  There was a dim, intangible ethic he had violated.  That they knew.

He was a bird of death, and he, the murderer, the foreboding bird at the heart of life, he sat there, glistening in the common light, formidable, unmoving, unperturbed, untouchable.

The Judgment of Life Against Death

The sighing died.  It was then that I saw the judgment.  It was the judgment of life against death. I will never again see it so forcefully presented.  I will never again hear it in notes so tragically prolonged.  For there in the midst of protest, they forgot the violence.  There in the clearing the crystal note of the song sparrow lifted hesitantly in the hush.  And finally, after painful fluttering, another took to song, and then another.  The song passing from one bird to another, doubtfully at first, as though some evil thing were being slowly forgottenTill suddenly they took heart and sang from many throats joyously together as birds are known to sing.

They sang because life is sweet and sunlight is beautiful.  They sang under the brooding shadow of the raven.  In simple truth, they had forgotten the raven, for they were singers of life, and not death.”

They sang of good news in bad times.

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  1. Jerry, thank you for sharing this passage from Eisley’s book.

    Affirmation of life may sometimes be the only answering song we can sing in the presence of loss.

    If you’re reading this, it must be why I’m writing. (Remember your post in June of 2009?)

    I enjoy your blog. Blog on!

    Craig in Colorado

  2. Thank you for your kind comment and observation. It is one of my favorite quotable insights.

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