One is a tiny annoyance, buzzing around and biting the unsuspecting victim. The other is a gentle bird making cooing sounds and threatening no one. One is a menace to anyone enjoying an afternoon in the park. The other sings its songs in the enjoyment of the park. But can a mosquito or a dove change your life? Yes, if you’ve killed one.
When I was six years old, my playmates were all boy cousins. We traveled as a “pack” playing games or trying to outdo one another in contests of strength or skill. One day we decided to make slingshots. It took hours to choose the right tree branch, cut it to size, and carve the V shape just so. Finally, each of us had a perfect sling shot. Next we had to find our prey.
We set up a target and fired small stones at it. Then growing bored, the boys began to aim at birds in the sky, missing each one. Taunts and wagers filled the air as each stone flew wide of its mark. Then I spotted a mourning dove on the ground near a distant hedgerow and announced I could hit it. My cousins jeered telling me there was no way I could hit anything that far away. I drew back the rubber sling, aimed at the mourning dove and hit it. I watched in horror as feathers flew and the bird disappeared in the undergrowth.
Though I survived the cheers and backslaps of my cousins, my eyes filled with tears. When the boys went off to other pursuits, I went to the place I’d last seen the mourning dove. On hands and knees I searched for her. Reaching into the dead leaves at the bottom of the shrubs I looked for feathers. There were none. Sobbing, I looked for blood. There was none. I pulled all the low branches of the shrubs aside, examining each one. I knew I’d hit the dove with a stone but there was no evidence of the bird. I went home bereft.
That night in bed I imagined the injured bird had hidden itself from me. I saw her nest with the eggs now untended. I knew she was dying alone somewhere, all because of me. In the silly moment of showing off to my cousins that I was as good a shot, or better than them, I’d killed an innocent creature. The pain wracked me with guilt and grief for I knew, even at the age of six, that it was wrong and I had not only hurt it, but something precious inside of me. I cried myself to sleep that night and many nights after. Decades later I still live with the sadness of taking the life of this most gentle of innocent creatures. To compensate I declared the mourning dove my totem, treasuring these birds and their sounds ever since.
Years later a spiritual master told me his story of killing a mosquito. He was playing with his grandchildren and heard a mosquito buzzing them. The kids began to cry because the mosquito had bitten them. So with determination he stalked the mosquito, killing it. He said he knew better but felt no guilt about it. He didn’t question whether he should have or shouldn’t have killed it. But suddenly everything froze. He went into 12 seconds of silence realizing he had killed something that he was intricately connected to. He was the food of this insect. And in that realization he was the instrument that killed that which he was part of.
We talked about the killing of the dove and the mosquito. It didn’t matter whether the dove was not deserving of death or the mosquito deserving of death for biting humans. Both were entwined in this vast network of life, each dependent on the other. He told me that when humans begin to function with the realization that all of life is sacred and interconnected, we will become like prophets. He said:
The secret of the prophets is that they know love is the foundation of life and that all things are one connection through the magnetism of love.
The stories of The Mosquito and the Dove are apt metaphors for the love we can hope to have for each other. It’s easiest with family. It’s kind of easy with friends. It’s not as easy with the birds and insects that also inhabit our spheres of influence. That is, until you have the experience of killing one of these creatures. Then you’ll experience their loving essence pouring out and enveloping you. At that moment you’ll know at the core of your being the loving interconnected relationship we have with all things.
Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to www.starsoundings.com or email email@example.com.