Jeremy’s Journey won 1st place in the 2020 SouthWest Writers Annual contest, Philosophy Category.
Jeremy fluttered his wings and launched upward from the pine bough where he had spent the night. Small and brown, Jeremy was not very remarkable in the bird world. He was quick enough to escape the claws of pigeons who thought he would make a good dinner and he was good at finding small bugs and worms as he peered between blades of grass.
Jeremy liked to sit on telephone wires and chirp with the other birds. He enjoyed singing and flying through bright sunny afternoon. He twittered as the dogs in the yard beneath would bark at him. How stupid they were!
What Jeremy did not like was wind and rain. On days when the sun was hiding behind the rain clouds, Jeremy and the other small birds tried to find a place where they could hide. His feathers were not made to cast off the water, so he would shake himself, then huddle close to a tree trunk or under the roof of a house.
The worst came when the winds grew cold. Jeremy went to find food, but most of the bugs and worms were hidden underground. The berries were all gone from the bushes and the seeds on the ground were hard to find. He had to fly out of his shelter to eat, but as soon as he could he would go back to perch beneath the eaves of a large old house. He would fluff up his feathers so that he could stay a little warmer and bury his beak under his wing.
In the winter time, Jeremy could see into the windows of the houses. He saw the dogs as they played with the humans. The humans always had food and water set down for the dogs and they were always warm.
Jeremy thought to himself. “I wish that I was a dog. I wish I was warm and never had to worry about finding food.” Jeremy shivered as an icy breeze cut up under the eaves of the garage where he was sheltered.
That night Jeremy was so cold that his body died. He didn’t feel any different really. He could still fly. He opened his eyes and saw a very bright glow that looked like the sun. He flew towards the glow and felt light and warm.
“Hello, Jeremy.” A calm voice spoke to him from the middle of the glowing light. “Do you know where you are?”
Jeremy shook himself. “Am I in summertime?”
“In a way,” the voice said. “Here it is always summer.”
“Can I stay?” asked Jeremy anxiously.
“For a little while.” the voice answered.
“Is there a branch nearby to land on?” Jeremy asked.
“No, but you do not need branches anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look at your feet.” The voice instructed.
Jeremy looked and was astonished. He had no feet! He had no feathers! He had no wings or beak!
Jeremy’s body was all aglow – just like the light ahead of him. “What happened to me?” Jeremy said.
“You simply left your feathers behind. You have come here to be with me”. As he spoke the glow brightened and expanded.
Jeremy was not afraid, he was happy. He drifted towards the glow until he became part of it. Suddenly he began to sing with as much joy as ever he had sung on a lovely summer’s day.
All his experiences, all the feelings he had ever had, good and bad were shared with the great glowing spirit that had called him. For a time they sang together of fat juicy bugs, and eggs hatching. They crooned about cold winds and gray wet days. They rejoiced in flying over trees and seeing reflections in the streams below. They became one.
Finally the song dimmed. Jeremy pulled away from the Great Spirit and in doing so he felt alone again. But he knew he was a piece of this divine one, even when apart.
“Thank you, Jeremy, for bringing us your memories and your knowledge of the skies of Earth.”
“Are you ready to continue your life’s journey?”
Jeremy loved being here, so close to the Great Spirit of which he was once part. But he still had many tasks to perform before he finally became one with all the other wisps of Spirit that had split off so long ago. His job was to live separately, to learn, to understand life, and to add his experiences to that of all the other souls that made up the Great Spirit.
“Yes, Great Spirit, I am ready to continue my task.”
“And what form would you like to take this time?” the Great Spirit inquired.
Jeremy thought for a moment. Here in this place he remembered that he had been a fish, he had been a spider and he had been a bird. He remembered the dogs in their nice warm house.
“I should like to be a dog.” Jeremy decided. “A big dog” He added.
With these words the spirit of Jeremy was pulled into a dark warm place, where he slept until he was born.
“I swear that dog is going to drive me crazy!” The lady put her hands on her hips as she watched the big German Shepard barking at the birds in the back yard. “Joe! Joe! Get in here!”
As Joe bounced into the kitchen he jumped and danced around the lady until she had to laugh. Joe did not remember that he had once been a bird named Jeremy, but he barked as much as birds sing and he loved to leap in the air outside and woof at the birds on the telephone wires.
Joe thought birds were lucky, they could fly anywhere they wished. Joe hated having to stay in the yard or being put on a leash. Joe had to learn to do the things that the Lady told him to do. He learned that the sounds she made meant that he was supposed to do things or go places. Obedience was a very difficult thing, and Joe often envied the birds as they flew around and did as they pleased. He looked across the fence to where a horse named Ruby lived. She was beautiful and very large!
He ran outside again, right up to the fence and began to bark at Ruby. Oh how loudly he could bark!
The Lady sighed as he came back to be petted. “You know Joe, I have never heard a dog that liked the sound of his own voice as much as you do, and I have never seen one that would jump so high just for the fun of it.”
She laughed as she scratched behind his ears. “Maybe you should have been a bird.”
Joe cocked his head and looked at her funny, and his soul laughed.