Did you see the murmuration of starlings over the Irish Lake? It was so cool, all those individual birds coming together, flying in synchronicity with each other. A great swarm of bird humanity swirling together, each in tune with all the others, soaring through the air in some sort of undulating wave of species.
Why do they do it?
Scientists think that they do it because there is safety in numbers, perhaps they communicate where better food sources exist and for warmth.
I am not really sure anyone knows because you can’t ask the starlings. They do not speak our language, it is their secret and our wonder to behold. We can only guess. Which makes it even more magical to me. A great feat before our eyes, and we stand there dumbly at the shore, guessing, always guessing about what it all means.
There are millions of these types of events, ones in which we humans can only guess. Sometimes they are minute events that pass without our knowing, sometimes they are great feats that capture our attention momentarily, too busy with our humanness to give too much time to the natural world.
I remember when I was a girl, camping with my dad in Yellowstone. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny, warm, gorgeous. As we lie around our campsite, I noticed that the chipmunks were behaving strangely. They were all of a sudden super activated and doing the same behavior. They were all running around, going in and out of holes in the ground, then coming up and sitting next to the hole, whipping their tails onto the ground, all facing the same direction. This went on for some time, it started slowly but then built to a crescendo...finally they all disappeared into their holes and were not seen again.
Shortly thereafter a great thundering storm blew through, it was swift, magnificent and mighty. It spewed rain and thunder and lightning. I think, if I remember correctly, there was also hail. And then, just as swiftly as it began, it was over.
While I sat marveling at the chipmunks, there were forces at work that only they knew. They knew the coming torrent, even though I remained completely unaware. They were in tune with the earth and sky in a way that I learned to be that summer. Because of those little creatures, I have since watched for a shift in animal behavior. In my dogs, my chickens, my horse. I can tell when something is going on by their change in mood, shift in alertness. Certainly not every time, but I take the time to notice when they are on high alert, or even upped alert.
I found myself wondering if we humans do this murmuration...do we congregate en masse to accomplish some sort of magical movement?
I think so.
I think that is what Burning Man, concerts, marches, demonstrations, rallies and the like are for us. They are our human murmurations of the Divine...a great coming together in celebration, communications of ideas, sharing of information and warmth. We come together en masse to show each other what we can do together is greater than what we each can do alone.
The Pandemic took these displays away. We no longer gather, we no longer murmurate. And I feel it. I feel the loss of community, of communal touch. I feel the isolation and separateness in a way that was not possible before. I miss the swarm. I miss the buzz I received from being my individual part in some greater whole congregated together... buzzing.
I am sure our great human murmuration will return, but will it ever be the same? Will we ever reach out and touch the way we did before? Will we connect, truly, communicating the secrets that can only be revealed when we all move together in a life giving wavelength?
I find myself thinking of a darkened concert hall, the stage dark, silent...pregnant with anticipation of what will shortly begin. The crowd hushed and waiting...longing for what is about to start. And then, a note is pushed into the air and out to all who gather, and the crowd begins to sway together in time to the music. A great rising and falling in unison and meter, the billowing of each note played or sung, landing in that receptor in all of us that is the same. And so we move as one until the last note is played...an example, an offering to whomever might be watching from above.