Friday, November 06, 2015


the beam from my headlamp caught an owl in midflight tonight. it glided through the trees beneath the canopy, gray, ghostly, silent. i followed its flight for a few moments, then turned away and ran on.

in cultures around the world, the owl is a harbinger of death. its screeching, in particular, is said to presage disaster in many forms.

sitting here after the fact, i have no idea how real the danger was today at ballard high school. what we know is that a student was arrested outside the school, reportedly for carrying a gun.

we know the school was under lockdown for a few hours, with our children inside. lacking more real-time information than that, our imaginations were free to run wild. to envision disaster as it's been visited on countless children at countless schools across the nation.

today, it was ballard. just over a year ago it was seattle pacific university, where three people were shot, one fatally, in a random shooting. right in front of the building where our daughter does gymnastics.

in the days to come? well, we don't know, do we? we just know there's a numb inevitability about those days now, and a case to be made that we deserve them.

we have become a country whose gross national product is violence. we inflict death on ourselves at a catastrophic rate, and export it to people eager to be as viciously proficient as we are.

we fight in a burning house with people who insist the fire shouldn't be put out.

the screeching is deafening.
i am handicapped, i suppose, not to believe in harbingers. i am, however, just perceptive enough to recognize that there are days when death looks us over, head to toe, deciding whether to take us or to pass us by.

today was supposed to be a rest day, but there was too much stress accumulated, too much crazy not to go burn some of it off. so i ran. and i wept. it was dark, the roads and trails were empty, so it felt safe to just go ahead and let it out.

somewhere along the way it occurred to me that we're running out of times and places that feel safe any more.

1 comment:

J said...

We joke often of the owls we hear; pause for the few we see... and we keep going out there in case we need to hear when our name is called.