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Letter: An agnostic meets with the Prophets of Dawn

This morning at the edge of a meadow, I witnessed a gathering of crows. Maybe 50 of them. They may or may not have formed a murder, for I do not know how many crows a murder makes. Nor do I know if the gathering was premeditated or simply committed in an act of passion. To be honest, I don’t even know if they were crows.

I confess: I cannot tell a raven from a crow. I do not apologize for this. For what does my ignorance matter? As long as they can distinguish each from the other, then all is right with the world.

But in my head, I call them all “ravens.” This is deliberate. For I do not believe in God, at least not in a god that I can comprehend. For if there is a god, if there is a maker of all this mayhem, magic and murder, then he/she/it must be so far beyond my powers of discernment that I can’t possibly hope to encompass that infinity in my finitude.



But I want to. I want to believe. And so I call them ravens, wizards, spiritual masters. I choose to make of them a great mystery.

I sit before this gathering, this ravishment of ravens, dumbfounded, awestruck. I listen to their caws and cackles, their whoops and trills, humbled, as though I were face to face with a burning bush. I take up my pad, my pen. I listen. For time is running out. For the new commandments are coming. And I must learn to speak bird.



Jose Alcantara

Basalt


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