August 22, 2019

Ravens . . . by James Bishop Jr.

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If only we did not have to die, instead become ravens – Louise Erdrich

Weary of Arabs killing our men and women; tired of Chinese cutting down Christian crosses; fed up with blowhard politicians and amoral philanderers? Hear rumblings about a bridge at Red Rock Crossing? Forget Canada, the lines are already too long. Instead, find the Valley of the Ravens if survival is one’s goal. Of late, there seem to be more of the noisy, ancient birds around. What are they up to?

Long before Indians, cowboys, developers, and tourists took over our lands, ravens swooped, soared, and glided in the Verde Valley. A flock scared off the first Spaniards while they looked for gold in Jerome, in 1583. Still, the truth of the ravens’ powers lies far deeper in time.

In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy. Word has it that ravens were regarded as symbols of good luck, god’s messengers in the mortal world. According to ancient parables, Apollo directed a white raven to spy on his lover’s shenanigans. When the raven returned with the news that rumors of his lover taking another lover were true, Apollo in his fury scorched the raven, turning the animal’s feathers black — as they are today, all around the world.

The deeper one digs, the richer the rewards. In the New Testament, ravens are used by Jesus as an illustration of God’s provision in Luke 121:24. Years later Goddesses would land on a favored man’s shoulder in the form of a raven.

Few people have ever found the valley of the ravens. Those that have, emerged telling friends that they are no longer who they once were. By one account, a wilderness guide called Benny, in a depressed mood, entered the valley to be greeted by dozens of ravens perched in trees staring down on him — as if they had been waiting for him. Then, an old raven plopped down in front of him giving signals with its wings.

In the distance, the lightning flashed, thunder rolled as if huge bowling balls crashing into pins. Unexpectedly, all the wind was sucked out of him followed leaving behind a golden glow throughout his body. Ideas tumbled through his mind; voices whispered . . . more living, more loving, more caring, more dreaming. Sleepiness overcame him leading him to an unplanned nap. When he awoke, he was all alone, but he was lonely no more. His spirit for life had returned.

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