Playing Chicken with Swallows

The barn swallows have returned, filling the skies with their acrobatics at sunrise. It makes her heart leap to witness their agility and grace. In the morning she walks out on the field where they are chittering while chasing insects in the bright sunlight. 2016-06-02 15.39.18

They begin a delightful game, as she stands, arms raised, and waits. The insects rise out of the grass to investigate her. Flies and mosquitoes buzz and fling themselves against her bare arms and legs, and the swallows move in. Like miniature fighter planes, they zoom beneath her outspread arms, sweeping past her legs, shoulders, and head. Now there are five of them. She attracts their food, and they take the opportunity to feast.

They whisk through the air, tumbling and banking, sometimes inches away from her. She can almost see the flash of their dark eyes as they turn, the glint of sunlight off their iridescent backs, the orange glow of their bellies.

Jerry Vess swallow turns head

At this moment, nothing else exists except for the beating of her heart as she musters the courage to remain perfectly still. Eyes closed, holding her breath; she can hear the swallows approach. They glide and sweep back their wings with a sound as soft as the cascading flow of a chiffon skirt. Sharp beaks slice the air inches from her face.

Jerry Vess Barn swallow flies over field

She is aware of being alive in the midst of a dance. For her, it is practice in learning to trust. There is joy in making a connection with other living beings. It is the exhilaration, the awe, the leap of the heart, the vitality that belongs to spirit and to the natural world that makes her no longer a stranger. She feels a deepening appreciation for her small life and for the lives of the ones who swoop and dive, with a proximity that feels closer than her breath. With her eyes closed listening to the wing beats, she anticipates touching the mystery of an utterly real presence, something beautiful and genuine.

2016-06-09 09.34.37

With the swift appearance of a hawk, in tight formation, the swallows disappear into the shade of the woods. She is left to wander back alone, crossing the field, once again to “act her age”… until they return.

      “Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it?

      They fall and falling, they’re given wings.”

                                                           ― Rumi

How often are we afraid to express ourselves, to trust life? When is the last time you felt free to play? 

Thank you to Jerry Vis (Quiet Solo Pursuits) for enabling me to tell a story with his photos. 

Vis, J. (2015, August 14). Sometimes, it’s just dumb luck, or is it? [WordPress]. Retrieved August 03, 2016, from



12 thoughts on “Playing Chicken with Swallows

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s