Services in the Church of the Big Empty

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced the spiritual services in the Big Empty. It’s not an automatic thing, but this morning Bear let me know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that she wanted to go. OK. Face not washed (mine), teeth not brushed (again, mine), dishes not done (obviously, mine) we headed out in the crisp autumn air.

There are hundreds of cranes here now. I have heard them for about a month but not seen many. That is, in my opinion, totally up to them. I have that luxury which people who travel thousands of miles to see these birds do not have. It was crisp — 9C about 45 F — a beautiful moment for a walk with my dogs. Teddy was busy checking the boundaries for nocturnal intruders and grasshoppers, but Bear was hanging close as she does, so I rested my hand on her back as we walked, something she loves (and I love). The morning was completely silent except for the purring and chortling of the cranes. I stopped for a moment, hearing them approaching, watched four land about 50 feet from us, in brush near a road that’s closed to the public.

A little later, captured by the beauty of some golden trees, I stopped again to listen to the cranes and the ambient silence. That’s what happens in the Church of the Big Empty. Bear lifted her head; her ears perked up. I turned to see where her eyes were looking. Four cranes were coming toward us about 15 feet above the ground. They flew in front of us, about 10 feet away. I felt for all the world (and it’s unlikely) as if they were saying “Hello!” to us. “How was your summer? Nice to see you again!” My eyes filled with tears, I was so happy to be so close to them again.

Cranes have a very unusual effect on people. I’ve tried to figure that out, but no luck. I’m one of the people who is deeply moved by them. Cultures all over the world — diverse and ancient cultures — regard them very highly and some see them as a model for human behavior. I have sure learned some good lessons from them over the years such as “Keep yourself alive.”

I don’t have photos of that moment. I’m at the point now with so many crane photos that I just want to watch, so you’ll have to take my word that it was beautiful. I do have THESE though…

19 thoughts on “Services in the Church of the Big Empty

  1. It sounds like a beautiful time in the Big Empty! Your encounter with the 4 cranes flying towards you was similar to what I have experienced often with the Great Blue Herons at Dana Point — they are still scarce, but I am seeing indications that they may be on their way back soon!

  2. I’m just a little envious (just a touch) that you got to be so up close to the cranes and that they came to you! They could have flown anywhere in that big empty but chose to fly in front of YOU! Perhaps they just knew you needed to see them and feel the wind from their wings on your face – a nature’s kiss so to speak! Bear is so very adorable in the photo!!!

    • Since 2020 — 2021 I’ve become kind of dependent on the cranes. I don’t know how I would have made it through all that virus and political weirdness without the beauty, good sense and company of the cranes. The day they stopped flying around me and started feeling OK about flying OVER me I knew something important had happened. I felt it today. I love them.

  3. M.A.K. , your beautiful description of the services put a smile on my face and in my heart (particularly the pic of Bear~Teddy, you’re a doll, too). I can’t imagine the “oneness” you felt when the cranes were so close (they knew the could with you). I will always think of you when I think of cranes and vice versa. What an amazing experience! ❤️🐶🥰

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