The day before we began our parrot pilgrimage in Nicaragua in December 2023, someone sent to me these words:
In order for me to write poetry that isn’t political
I must listen to the birds
and in order to hear the birds
the warplanes must be silent.
– Marwan Makhoul
The pilgrims ready to march for the day.
This poem seems appropriate for what we came to do which was to reach a lively presence with birds that was beyond words that could constrain. With this in mind, I offered opening words to the pilgrims gathered who were about to begin a 4.5 day walk around a volcanic island honoring the people and parrots of Ometepe Island.
“In order to depoliticize our lives, we have come here to listen to the birds. In order to hear birds though, the guns of war must be stilled. So we take refuge here with one another to listen to the birds and to one another, to still our lives, and to be immersed in the beauty that is ever present, so that when we leave this isle, we take with us an inner transformation to bless the world with the outer work of transforming our societies. Perhaps in this way one day wars will end."
To enter into the process of transformation we open our lives to the beauty and lives of others, so that we get beyond how our lives have been politicized. By politicized I mean how the media, authorities, and those who have and confer privilege in this world have spun a false narrative about how life is simply comprised of one group against another, or that all humans can be characterized as either oppressors or the oppressed. But no matter who we are or where we are, beauty is the ground of experience where these polarizing stories can fall away.
The parrot festival for the pilgrimage, postponed by almost a week.
But it was grand all the same!
Of course, this is easier said then done, especially in times such as these and in lands such as Nicaragua. In November 2023, Ms. Nicaragua won the Ms. Universe pageant and the people took to the streets to celebrate. Then came the critics and the political fall out against these gatherings and popular support for Ms. Universe. Out of caution, our opening day parrot festival had to be postponed.
Beauty had become politicized.
Our work is to see beyond what divides us and meet one another in a place of beauty, such as Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there."
And so, we met on Ometepe Island, to live and love in beauty. (And we will again next year, please join us!)
Birds beyond words - the yellow-naped parrots of Ometepe Island