A heron stands alone in the shallows. She is seemingly oblivious to me. I remain quiet and study it, praying inside for guidance and inspiration. I receive it. This occurred recently while I was walking on a sandy mound in a bay on the ocean,

She remains alone. I wonder why. She obviously has a clan somewhere. I observe the heron walking forward deliberately and assuredly with legs raised high. She stops, is still, and then darts her head into the water. She immediately brings herself back into composure.

I imagine that the heron has a Ralph Lauren image—feathers grey on grey, elegantly understated, with lacey feathers on her lower body and a single blue-grey plume on her head. When she ruffles her feathers they become full, rich, and luscious, like she could be the belle of the ball. My former sociobiological professor might suggest I am anthropomorphizing. I mentally agree with him. However, the metaphor guides and delights me.

Oh yes, about the other birds. There is a flock of squawking gulls sprawled on the ocean’s receding shoreline. They are bright white with grey and black spots. They flock together and scavenge what they can find.

The heron appears deliberate, intense, efficient, and effective. My impression is that she is intensely focused. She is untethered by taking care of what is unnecessary--only concentrating on being in the here and now and attending to what is needed. Her flight is low with her great wings almost touching the water. Her landing is meditatively deliberate and smooth. When she lands she immediately attends to what food is surrounding her, and then is still. Still! I gain a sense of peace from her ease. She has no urgency, no need for more, no projected anticipation. She has a presence of just being, just being still. Nurtured in the stillness.

I remember the heron and smile as I attend to my day’s responsibilities. I think of how I fly around to my various commitments, how I become silent inside and outside as I attend to what is important in the moment. I thank the heron for being there as a visual metaphor and reminder for me. I laugh, and then I laugh some more when I think of the times I also am squawking like a seagull. When I am not feeling self-assured, I insist to myself that I need to change something about myself. I wonder, “Does the heron ever have these seagull feelings?”

On another day I again walk outside, and there is the heron. I smile. Her presence continues to speak to me. She is, for me, an exceptional bird. I feel that she carries integrity, dignity, discipline, containment, and deliberateness. There is something about her purity of being that moves me. She is sensuous and alive in her body, and in caring for her needs without any wariness or question. She stills me into a meditative state of being in the moment right now. She reminds me of what really matters at the end of a day, at the end of a lifetime--to be present with what just is and still be satisfied.

The heron can be a symbol for all of us. In what ways are you choosing to live? What is your focus in life? How well are you attending to that which is most important to you? Are you scavenging like a seagull, or living your life with dignity, presence, and intention—like the heron?


Author's Bio: 

Suzanne Kyra is a Registered Clinical Counselor, self-empowerment specialist, workshop leader, international speaker, consultant, and clinical supervisor at the Psychology Clinic with Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada. She is the author of the award winning book, Welcome Home to Yourself, which is about living authentically in harmony with self and nature. Kyra has over three decades experience in all areas of human development, and is an expert in developmental stages, parenting, intimate relationships, and abundant living.