Just on the Other Side of Darkness

It’s happened once in each of three different years during the seven years I’ve lived here. Late on a long winter’s night and before the moon’s up, deep darkness lives off the front porch of this small cabin that sits on the edge of dense, young woods; a bird comes from out of the woods and flies against one of the three large windows, over and over and over – flies straight into it, fluttering its wings like a hummingbird, bouncing off the window, and then flying straight into it. The first time it happened, I put on my leather work-gloves and, with my heart pounding as fast as those fluttering wings, I went out on the porch and caught the fist-sized brown bird. I walked just to the edge of the woods, and set it gently on a low branch: it flew right back to the window.

The first year, I tried dimming the lights, which worked only if the light was far from the window. The second time I turned out all the lights and lit a candle. The third year, when a bird started up…it came to me that it was simply time for bed. It was early for bed…maybe that was the best thing for both of us.

The birds are headed straight for the light – they will do whatever it takes to reach it, whatever “it” is. I wonder about them; what causes them to come out of their safe nighttime hideaway and take such an enormous risk? What triggers them to come crashing at the window on one particular evening in the still of the night? Where do they go once I have returned the night to its native darkness?

I am waiting for the sound of wings beating against my window in the deep, dark of winter. I believe that this year I will hear that sound and know that the only way out of that struggle is to dive right into that place that is just on the other side of the light; just on the other side of darkness.