Book 3. The Space of Love (1998)
A bird for discovering one’s soul
The next day we went to the glade and, as before, watched from a concealed vantage-point as our little son was engrossed in his play The wolf lay at the edge of the glade, following everything with a keen eye. Her cubs played by her side. I noticed little Vladimir from time to time sticking his finger in his mouth and sucking on it, as all children that age do, for some reason. I knew parents are supposed to dissuade their offspring from this habit by some means or other — either by binding the child’s hands with cloth or by giving him a soother. I mentioned this to Anastasia, and she replied:
“Not to worry this is extremely beneficial. Our son is licking pollen from his fingers.”
“Pollen? What kind of pollen?”
“Pollen from the flowers and the grass. He touches the flowers and grass with his hands. Sometimes bugs will crawl across his hand, and they carry pollen too, on their legs. See, he is frowning. And taking his finger out of his mouth. That means he did not like the taste of some kind of grass pollen. Now he is bending down and trying to put a flower into his mouth to see how it tastes. Let him do that. Let him taste the Universe.”
“The Universe and a little flower — what’s the connection? Or is it simply a figure of speech?”
“Everything alive in the world has a connection with the Universe.”
“But how? Where? Where can one see this connection? What instrument is capable of measuring it?”
“One does not need an instrument. One needs only one’s soul. Then you will be able to see and understand what is visible around us every day, many times over.”
“What can be seen — and then understood — with the soul? Give me an example.”
“Take the Sun, for instance. It is far away from us — a planet of the Universe — yet as soon as it rises, it touches a flower with its ray, and the flower opens in delight. It seems as though they are so far apart from each other — the great huge orb of day and the tiny wee flower, but they are linked together. One cannot exist without the other.”
Anastasia unexpectedly fell silent and began looking up. I looked up too. I saw a large eagle circling over the glade. I had seen eagles something like that at the zoo. It kept circling lower and lower, and all at once it touched down with its talons about two metres from the boy The inertia of its flight kept it moving along the ground for awhile. Then, after shaking its feathers all over, it stood forth proud in the glade.
The wolf pricked up her ears. Her fur was standing on end, but she made no move to attack the eagle, which was now strutting proudly across the glade.
The little one got all excited. He sat down on his little bare bottom and — without any awareness of danger — stretched out his hands toward the fearsome bird.
Strutting slowly on its talons, the eagle came right up close to the boy. Its hooked beak hung right over his little head.
The boy apparently felt himself in no danger whatsoever. He began to feel the eagle’s feathers and touched its talon- tipped legs. He clapped his little hand against the eagle’s chest and smiled.
All at once its huge beak touched the boy’s head — then a second time, as if looking for something on it. Then the eagle went off to one side and spread its wings. With a beat of its wings it rose slightly off the ground, and again touched down and stood still. The boy stretched out his arms in the direction of the huge, threatening bird and began uttering sounds: eh, e-e-eh.
And all at once the eagle... The eagle went behind the boy’s back, and all of a sudden started running, and then it took flight! It circled low over the glade, dived down and without landing picked up the boy in its enormous talons.
But the talons did not pierce his flesh.
The eagle thrust its sharp claws under the boy’s armpits and began circling low over the glade, beating its wings and trying to lift the little one off the ground.
The boy jerked his trailing feet along the grass, sometimes ever so slightly lifting them into the air. The boy’s eyes were bulging, sparkling with the fire of excitement. And then, all at once, they rose into the air! They had risen a metre above the ground when they achieved synchronicity — when the push of the little feet against the ground coincided with the beat of the eagle’s wings.
The eagle kept circling, lifting the two of them gradually high-er, but the boy didn’t cry out. They simply flew, rising together into the deep blue. By this time the eagle had lifted the boy
above the tops of the tall cedars and was continuing to climb.
Overcome with shock, and still speechless, I seized Anastasia’s arm. Her eyes remained fixed on the sky as she whispered to herself:
“You are still the strong one! Bravo! And you may indeed be old, but you are still strong. Your wings are still mighty. Fly! Fly even higher!”
And the eagle, bearing in its talons the wee child’s little body, kept circling and climbing higher and higher into the heavenly blue.
“What’s the point of subjecting the child to an execution like this? Why expose him to such danger?” I yelled at Anastasia, as soon as I had recovered from shock.
“Please do not worry, Vladimir. The eagle’s ascent is not nearly as dangerous as the aeroplanes on which you yourself have flown.”
“But what if he drops the boy from way up there?”
“He would never even think of such a thing! You just relax, do not allow either fear or doubt into your thoughts. The eagle’s flight is making an extremely significant contribution to our son’s conscious awareness. Note that the eagle has lifted the child above our Earth.”
“What significance can there be here,” I countered, “except for superstition? It is quite true that Man should not interfere in great works of creation. With that I agree. But an ascent like this was not provided for by the Creator. You yourself, along with your grandfather, taught the bird to do this. Out of some kind of superstition, most likely What else could it be? There’s no point in taking such a risk!”
“When I was little,” came Anastasia’s reply, “I too flew up high with this same eagle. I did not have a great deal of understanding back then, but it was so interesting, so extraordinary The glade seemed so small from up high. And the Earth seemed so broad and unfathomable. Everything was so bright, and this extraordinary experience stayed with me for a long time, for ever. When I had grown some — by this time I was three years old — Great-Grandfather asked me a question: “Well me, Anastasia, do all the creatures like it when you stroke and caress them with your hand?’
“‘Yes, they all do. They keep wagging their tails to show how much they like my caressing. The grass and the flowers and the trees like it too, but not all of them have tails to wag, to show how good it feels to be stroked.’
“‘So, everything desires to feel the embrace of your hand?’ “‘Yes, everything living and growing, small or large.’
“And the wide Earth also wants to be caressed? You have seen the Earth, how wide it is?’
“At this point I recalled the vivid experience I had had with the eagle as a baby; The size of the Earth was not something I knew just from hearsay. And so I answered Great-Grandfather without hesitating:
‘“The Earth is wide, you cannot see its edge. But if everyone wants to be caressed, that means the Earth must want it, too. But who would be able to embrace the whole Earth? It is so great that even your arms, Great-Grandfather, would not be able to embrace the whole of the Earth!’
“Great-Grandfather stretched out his arms to either side, looked at them, and nodded in agreement.
“‘You are right. Even my arms are not long enough to embrace the whole Earth. But you said that the Earth, like everyone else, wishes to be caressed?’
“‘Yes, it does. Everybody wants to be caressed by Man.’
“‘So you, Anastasia, should embrace the whole Earth as well. Think about how you could do this,’ Great-Grandfather said, and walked away
“I began thinking a lot of the time about how to embrace the whole Earth. And I could not think of anything. And I knew that Great-Grandfather would not speak to me — he would not ask me any more questions — until I had solved this problem, and so I kept trying.
“More than a month passed, and the problem had not been solved. And then one day I found myself looking tenderly at the wolf, from a distance. She was standing on the other side of the glade.
‘All at once, sensing my gaze, the wolf started wagging her tail. Then I began to notice how all the creatures were so delighted when I looked at them with joy and tenderness. EIow big they were or how far away they were was not important. They were delighted just from my looking at them or thinking about them with love. I realised they were just as happy as they had been earlier when I was stroking them with my hand.
“Then I became aware of something: Here was T with my hands and feet, and yet there was also this other me, larger than could be shown by someone’s hands. And this larger, invisible entity was also me. That meant that every Man was set up just like me. And this larger me was indeed capable of embracing the whole Earth.
“When Great-Grandfather showed up, I was all bubbling with joy, and I said to him:
“‘Look, Grandpakins, see how happy all the creatures are — not just when I touch them with my hand, but also when I look upon them from a distance. It is invisible, but something of me is embracing them, and it can embrace the whole Earth too.
“‘I shall embrace the Earth with my invisible self! I am Anastasia. There is the little me, and there is the greater me. But how this other me is called, I do not yet know. But I shall think about how to call it properly, and I shall say its name and give you the whole answer, Grandpakins! Then will you begin talking with me again?’
“Great-Grandfather began talking with me right away, and said:
“‘Call your second self, dear granddaughter, soul. Tour soul. And cherish it, and act in accord with this limitless soul of yours.’
“Tell me, Vladimir,” Anastasia said, addressing me, “how old were you when you first became aware of your soul, when you felt it for the first time?”
“I don’t remember exactly,” I replied, and wondered whether I had ever really discovered my soul, or whether others discovered it too, and at what age? And to what degree? Maybe we simply talk about our soul, not really feeling at one with it, not really thinking about our second, invisible self. And how important is it to feel all that, and what for?
The tiny dot moving overhead quickly began enlarging. The eagle kept circling lower and lower over the glade. When it reached the height of the tree-tops, I could see the little one’s flushed face, and his eyes sparkling with excitement. The little fingers at the tips of his outstretched arms were moving in time with the wingbeats of the extraordinary bird. When the little one’s legs touched the ground and started trailing across the grass, the eagle loosened its talons. The little one fell, rolled over in the grass and quickly got up on all fours. Then he sat up and started turning his head around, looking for his new-found friend.
The eagle staggered off a little ways, but then fell on its side. It lay awkwardly on the grass about ten metres distant, with one wing sticking out at an angle. It was having a hard time breathing, and its head was resting on the ground.
The little one saw it, broke into a smile and crawled over to it. The eagle attempted to get up and greet the boy, but once again rolled over on its side. Maliciously baring her teeth, the wolf took two leaps and landed between the eagle and the boy Anastasia whispered, her voice trembling:
“How perfect and strict are Your laws. You gave everything to Man right from the beginning, Creator. The wolf is following your laws, but I feel sorry, very sorry for the eagle.”
“What is going on? Why is the wolf acting so aggressive and malicious?” I asked Anastasia.
“Now the wolf will not let the eagle come to Vladimir,” she replied. “She thinks it has fallen ill, since it has rolled over on its side. She could attack it to chase it out of the glade. Vladimir must not see the attack — he will not understand it at the present time. Oh, what to do? What can we possibly do?”
At this point the eagle shook its feathers, got up firmly on its feet, proudly threw back its head, and clicked its fearsome beak twice. With proud and sure step the eagle began
strutting toward the boy. The wolf appeared to calm down, went off to one side, but not far. She was ready at any moment to make her leap, and followed the proceedings like a hawk.
The little one first touched the enormous bird’s beak, then began tugging on its wing feathers, ruffling them and demanding or asking something, repeating all the while: e-eh, a-ah.
The bird’s hooked beak touched the crown of the boy’s head, along with his shoulders, which still bore the marks of the eagle’s talons.
Then the eagle bent its head to the ground and, using its beak to tear off a little flower, put it in the boy’s open mouth, as though it were feeding its young. The little one all the while kept making the same vowel sounds. After performing this ‘parental duty’ the eagle began staggering again. The malicious wolf crouched for a leap. And then suddenly the eagle... it started into a run. There was a beating of wings and... take-off!
Time after time it would rise higher and higher, then make a sudden dive for the glade. About a metre and a half from the ground it would level out and ascend once more. The little one waved at it, stretched his arms out to it, called it, laughing with a toothless grin. Anastasia kept her eyes fixed on the eagle, and whispered with concern:
“Tou do not have to do that. Lou did everything just right. And you are healthy — I know you are not sick. Relax, my dear eagle, relax. Thank you! I believe... I believe you are well! Lou are just a little old! Relax!”
Once again the eagle executed its complex pirouette, in such a way as to touch the grass with its talons. Still, it did not land, or push off from the ground. Instead, with a powerful thrust of its wings, it managed to rise in the air, snatching a clump of grass along the way. It circled, showered the little one with the grass and began rising higher and higher into the sky
As before, Anastasia followed the eagle like a hawk — not taking her eyes away even when it became nothing but a dot in the blue. For some reason I found myself following it too, as the dot grew ever more distant from the glade. At first it went straight up, and then veered sharply off to the side, away from the glade. Suddenly the dot headed for the ground, and it wasn’t long before we could see that first one wing and then the other were spreading themselves — but simply from the wind, and not as a deliberate action by the bird.
It was not flapping its wings or soaring — it was simply falling. Its wings were ruffling in the wind — it was the wind that had opened them.
“ Y^u died in the sky, way up high! And there you remain. You did all that you could possibly do for Man. Thank you. Thank you for showing us your heights, my old teacher.”
The eagle continued to fall, while two young eagles circled overhead.
“Those are your offspring, they are strong already. You did everything for their future too,” whispered Anastasia to the old eagle, which had fallen somewhere beyond the glade. As though in death it could still hear her.
By this time the two young eagles were circling low over the glade. I knew they were its offspring, and the little one waved to them.
“Of all things!” I exclaimed to Anastasia. “Why this senseless sacrifice? What did he do that for? And do it all for Man? Why do they try like that, Anastasia? Why do they sacrifice themselves like that?”
“For the light emanating from Man. For the grace which Man can give them, and for a feeling of hope for their offspring. Now its offspring will see and sense the light of life- giving love from Man! Look, Vladimir, our son smiled at the young eagles and now they are flying over to him. Perhaps
the old eagle has realised that this light, this grace-filled light emanating from Man, will also include a particle of itself” “Me they ready to sacrifice themselves for the light emanating from everyone?”
“From everyone who is capable of emitting this grace-filled light!!!"