River Bat

I love the river. Its flow. Its constancy.

It is here that I find my home. It is here that I rest.

There is nothing but the rocks, the ripples on the surface, the craggy outcroppings of stone and tree jutting up from the river’s edge. The sun casts its glow on the naked sycamore, a pinkish orange, then white gleaming on the opposite shore.

My son sits at the river bank on a blanket. We are having a picnic and the sun is at its wintery angle, the lowest point where the sun bends across the horizon almost kissing the edge where in summer it stands kingly aloft. The air is cold, our breaths hover in the air as the light gathers darkness.

I feel life stirring in me. My breath shallow then deepens. I breathe deep into my womb.

There is creation here. Constant. Every summer, every fall, every winter, every spring. This friend. This relationship. This parent. This height of glory. This fall from grace. They are all here. In the smooth pebbled surface on the river floor. Washed clean every time. Until the next breath carries them away, and the next cycle continues.

It could be 2 million years ago for all I know. Dinosaurs roaming behind me. The rocks no different then as they are now. The river clear in the winter cold.

I wonder sometimes if St. Francis had a river he looked at. How could you not have known the everlasting in such beauty? It is in nature we find the instrument of God’s peace.

My legs are shaking. I am exhausted. The life inside me stirs. Robbie tells me its time to go.

We walk up to the foot bridge that takes us from the river.

A swooping occurs over our heads. So close Robbie steps back. “What is that Mom?”

There are 3 bats in erratic flight, constant in their search, sending out waves, ripples in the air as ripples in the water.

One stays near us. She comes close. Then close again. This time we see her brown body, her dark muzzle, her round ears. Breathing together, all of us, we are so close. Our out breath brings her to us: an out breath, she catches, an out wave, she dives past.

We find a place to sit on the bridge and our bat friend disappears. The light has moved to that precise point in the sky, the transition between light and dark, the brief moment in nature where all is still.

The bat comes again. Coming to us then away. We see her body several more times. She is free, careening in the transition of light, feeding her body, erratic in her path, circling our heads, not there, then there.

The light streaks purple across the sky. Our bat dips one final time and is gone.

My womb contracts, a small hand at my heart. She whispers, “It is time Mama.” We turn and walk home.

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