Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mushrooms and Prayer Feathers

Last evening, I decided to take a walk across the road to my place along the river and sit for awhile in prayer and meditation. I wasn't needing to pray, at least not about anything in particular. It was a beautiful day and I simply wanted to be present to it. And listen.

As I crossed the road, I saw a turkey feather lying on the ground, right in my path, perhaps from the small flock that made its way through my yard a couple of days ago. As I bent over to pick it up, I recalled the American Indian belief regarding feathers. In every native American tribe it is believed they carry with them the power of prayer, that they represent a prayer. In some indigenous cultures, they call forth the creative force and allow for communication with Spirit. And so I picked it up and held it as I continued on my walk to the river.

After sitting there by the river for a few minutes, I felt the nudge to walk, to discover more of the small bit of woods on my land, the woods the turkeys had taken cover in two days previously. I walked along the fence line until I could cross over at a place where a fence post was almost down. On the corner of my woods, in a small meadow next to the neighboring farm field, there was a long forgotten garden, fenced and consisting of several tractor tires set in rows. It would take a good deal of working this garden to bring it back to a usable state, but there it is. A possible project for some other spring, should more gardens be in my future.

I could hear, but not see, the crows in the neighbor's field. The colors, the sounds, the sense of autumn, the entire scene, all contributed to a rather van Gogh-ish feeling in the air.

Throughout my walk, I found several mushrooms had popped out, all wanting to have their picture taken. I was drawn to a moss-covered stump that several mushrooms call home. It turned into a real lesson in seeing, really seeing.

Some were very colorful and I have long known they are usually the ones that are non-culinary. But, not always. There are two types of mushrooms that I feel confident picking. I know them as the honey cap and the sulphur shelf, which is quite colorful. Sauteed, there's no finer food. These, however, are not them.

At some point in my walk, I put the turkey feather in a button hole near my lapel. It felt right. Thinking about it now, I realize I had placed it over my heart. 

I have, framed and sitting in my bookshelf, a quote by the philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, regarding his thoughts on prayer. It states:

As my prayer became more and more attentive and inward, I had less and less to say. I finally became completely silent... This is how it is. To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking. Prayer involves becoming silent, and being silent, and waiting until God is heard.


  1. Such a beautiful contemplative post Teresa Evangeline. I was so interested in what you said about feathers. After my 18 year old son was killed,13 years ago now, three times I opened my back door in the early morning and there was a white feather lying on the doormat. Prayer for me these days is just what you were doing. Stillness and seeing and being. You are beautiful.

  2. I always love your posts. Often, I have no comments...I simply enjoy... Thank you for all your wonderful posts.

  3. Joan, I am so sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing, to lose a child. Feathers carry messages, I'm certain of it. White feathers, especially. The day I moved into this place, a white feather was lying on my porch. How wonderful, to feel and Know the communication that continues with those we love who have gone on. Thank you, so much, for sharing that.

    Lynne, Thank you. It's so fine, sharing this sense of community with you.

  4. This is such a heartwarming post, Teresa. The lesson of the feather is wonderful...I'm going to remember that.

  5. I too am drawn to feathers, perhaps it is my native american roots. I think I may have told you before but I found a white feather at the top of our driveway and then we sold our home in California. when I lived there I would find a feather almost every day and I was happy to do so. The other day I unpacked a glass jar with potpourri from my last home and in it were quite a few feathers I had collected there. Love the shot of the turkey feather in the lapel. I feel calm after reading this post, thanks.

  6. Cheryl, Nancy, and Linda, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I'm glad this post spoke to you. Life is good.

  7. Oh, I LOVE that quote! It is so true! God already knows what we need anyway. He just wants us to draw near to Him, I think. Thank you for sharing your wonderful moments of clarity and insight with creation and the creator. You're wonderful. :)

  8. And you are very kind. Thank you, Gail.

  9. This one of your best posts ever. Walking and seeing and explaining what you find in depth. Feathers as prayers. You are really doing something with your place as art and field observations. I catch a whiff of Annie Dillard whom I think is one of the great nature-metaphysical writers we have in your work. Have you given a name yet to your place? Not to rush, of course, because those things take time. Our hill is called Poprock Hill by the locals, but we have gone to calling it Swallow Hill. I don't know which will stick. You have such a beautiful place and a variety of life. I look forward to your next walk.

  10. Jack, It's good to hear from you. I hope all is well with your beautiful paint, Lilly.

    I will be writing about the name in a post. Soon. Thank you for asking. And, thank you for your very kind comments.

  11. I stopped in on Sunday and read this...and just took it in...and sat with it for a while. The idea of just going I wanted to try it before commenting. Well...on Monday I found a feather as I was cutting back some perennials. And then today I found another. And after finding it I felt synchronicity was at play here. Because I not only was able to find my silent spot...but also the opportunity to do so. Which...if you lived at my house you would can get quite lively here. Sometimes I think there must be a revolving door at the entrance.
    So thank you so much for helping me draw in this time of prayer and silence, and for the feather synchro. On the second day of finding another feather I knew this was telling me to seek that silence...and you are right it just sort of happens.
    Great post! and thank you for sharing your mushroom finds. Some of the best times I've ever had have been mushroom hunting. It's fun!

  12. Funny my word verification was Amence...Amen!

  13. MG: I spoke with a friend from NM this morning and our conversation was around this very thing. A call for stillness seems to be "going around." And, what a powerful idea it is. I'm glad to hear of your synchronicity/affirmation.
    Love the WV. Sort of a combo of amen and silence. :) Amen = "So be it."

  14. Teresa, your powerful post soothes. The Kierkegarrd quote also calmed, an ahhh moment that released the day's tension and I thank you for that. I didn't know the legacy of the white feather but can feel how it is...feathers shed and lie peacefully as we shed that which was once part of us, from angry emotions to strands of hair, and accept with stillness what is. Yes, stillness is going around, thankfully so. And Joan's right, you are beautiful!!

  15. Teresa,
    You always weave a scenic path, combining a nature walk and the stillness of meditation. Along the way, you plant seeds of thoughts for us to live by throughout the week.
    My heart goes out to Joan because every mother can feel the grief of another. Time stands still when it comes to mourning.
    Hope you have a week of love and peace.

  16. Kittie, "Accept with stillness what is," is an ongoing practice. Thank you for your words.

    And, thank you, Manzanita. I hope the same for you.


  17. Excellent post, the last quote is particularly inspiring.