Today I heard a Blackbird sing

Regan O'Callaghan Blackbird, I heard a blackbird sing, egg tempera, religious icon, haloToday I heard a Blackbird sing.

I often sit in my studio painting in silence.  I can be down here for hours and not see or speak with anyone.  But it is never truly silent. The inner conversations that go on in my head remind me of many things, jobs that need to be done and memories of friends I miss.  In the very still moments emerges the subtle feelings of aloneness which speak from deep within my being, a part of my being I call the sacred space. This voice I need to listen to.

There is a Blackbird that regularly sings outside my studio it also digs up the moss in the roof gutters of the Church Hall looking for worms and leaving the moss flung onto the pavement below.   I think it is probably doing the church a favour as it is unblocking the gutters ready for the next downpour!   I love it when the Blackbird sings as its song pierces the silence of the studio drowning out the tick of the clock and this mad priests ravings.

The Blackbird is naturally a forest dweller but with the forests being cut down it has learnt to adapt to suburban and city living.  This ability to adapt has meant that it has thrived while other birds have disappeared. In New Zealand where it was introduced it has prospered so well that many New Zealanders think it is a native!  Its darting through gardens and prancing on lawns while shrilly declaring its territory is now truly etched into the psyche of the nation.

This ability to adapt doesn't come naturally to all species and certainly not to all humans!  A general observation of western society might suggest it is the voices with the loudest shrill demands that gain ownership and domination of territories while the quieter types flitter about in the background!   However this is not to taint the Blackbird with our own quirks of nature.

For me the Blackbird is a symbol of strength and adaptability in an ever changing world. Its vibrant black plumage, yellow beak and ringed eye speaks of a bold character who perseveres come what may.  Walking home I often see it darting under and between parked cars on tarmac roads.  A harsh and unforgiving environment surely so foreign to it that I feel sad and yet I am thankful that this remarkable little bird is there.

Photo a detail taken from a work in progress.The Almighty and the Blackbird2011.