Luna flew yesterday. Her soul flew from her aged body – her wing healed, her spirit free from cages.
It is a deeply intimate experience to share the passing of a physical being’s life – be it human or animal.
To cradle a wild owl who in health would never allow such intimacy, who in dying relinquished all wildness to human kindness was an honor. As she weakened on Saturday and we knew for sure she was dying, we wrapped her in a towel and brought her inside. I couldn’t bear the idea of her dying on the floor of her cage. The talons that in health could break one’s arm softened. She could barely keep her eyes open, her breathing was shallow. She hadn’t eaten in a while so she wasn’t getting water. We gave her a few dropper’s full.
It was raining and windy outside and we sat by the fire holding her gently. She survived the night Saturday but barely. By Sunday morning, her head bobbed like a newborn babies and like a newborn we had to hold it. I realized she shouldn’t die inside. She didn’t know inside. So in my pj’s and slippers I took her outside in the rain and the wind. Wrapped like a newborn in the towel, the wind blew her feathers and she half opened her eyes. She moved her bobbing head from one side to the other as if bowing to the directions in solemn prayer, breathing in the wildness of the day, feeling the rain on her beak and then releasing her head back into the towel.
I held her close and told her it was time to let go as if she were human. I was amazed at her tenacity for life. I was determined for her die in the rain and the wind. I watched as her breathing became more and more shallow and then – two deep breaths – her eyes opened – and she was gone.
As I held her, I felt my life in that instant had become a prayer. Owls have been my life symbols and metaphors for transformation and for the two days that I held her dying body I was humbled by the spiritual simplicity of the meaning of life.