The Sound of Wings


My friend Brock and I often greet each other with the words “ishq allah.”  He tells me that ishq is mad, passionate, sticky love for God.

I’ve got a bad case of ishq.

Crazy-ass love for spirit in matter and matter in spirit.  Sufi-madness, believing ishq allāh ma’būd lillāh  – God is love, lover, and beloved.  I’m finding a scandalous willingness to “give up on my brain” and stagger through life as a grace-intoxicated drunkard.

Today, the sound of wings staggered me.

We hiked around a bend on a mountain trail in upper Ojai.  Our dog Saraswati saw a stand of bushes and froze in a perfect point.  She assumed a sacred dog-yoga posture, downward pointing God, a “union” with her ordained intuition.

I held my breath.  The earth held its breath.

Saraswati heard a silent starting gun.  She barreled into the underbrush.  Twenty grey quail hurled themselves up out of the bushes, no chirping, only the sound of insistent wings, saying “I am.” 

I breathed the sound and said, “So am I, beloved quail.  I am.”

Saraswati, completely pleased, sassed back down the mountain to receive a blessing from me.  “You are The Beloved too, sweet girl,” I said.

Painting by Michael Steddum


What did I do to deserve this microcosm of audacious grace?

Who created a dog that points so clearly and dearly?

What offered a flock of quail the adventure of shared get-away?

How did air, feathers, and flight evolve the capacity to break my heart into beauty with a sound that only Love can see?

Who submitted us to this drunken nonsense?

Ishq allah, love, lover, and beloved.

What a privilege it is to hear the three in one.  No definitions, no reasoning required.  Only wonder in the wordless wings.

A Jewish Prayer reminds us that we “walk sightless among miracles.

After the wings this morning, I believe we are deaf as well as blind.  Love, Lover and Beloved sing to us constantly.  But will we listen?  Will we hear?

I want to be better.

With my Beloved’s help, I’ll start with the High School Band, that rehearses every day, inches from my house.   I’ll fall in love with their raucous “On Wisconsin.”  I’ll celebrate the salsa version of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.”  I’ll dance to the drum line.  Love will transform out-of-tune band music to the sound of adoring children pointing at intangible grace.   But wait, did love change the music, the teenagers, or me?

Maybe, with practice, I can learn that everything changes everything.  Everything points to everything.  Everything is wings and wonder.  Everything is love, lover, and beloved.   Arguments, laughter, discord, and delight.  It’s all ishq allāh ma’būd lillāh ,  drunken rapture calling us home where we belong to the Beloved.

Ishq allah – drunken Saraswati


Prayer:  Help me to hear this differently.  Help me to hear the miraculous in all things.  Help me become the ears of the love, lover, and beloved I am. 



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16 Responses to The Sound of Wings

  1. brocktravis3 says:

    Ishq Allah, Bonnie-ji!


  2. sjehler says:

    And so it is… Thank you for this beautiful post today. It really touched me.


  3. becky burnham says:

    Ah! Absolutely Beautiful!


  4. monweld says:

    When I read the passage about your dog flushing the quail and the burst of wings my heart swelled and tears of healing came rushing out of me. Thank you. I’m having one of those moments where I feel like my connection to light, love, joy and endless possibilities is hard for others around me to understand. One person in particular seems so affected by it that they have become angry with me, does this ever happen to you? Is it possible for our joy to become a target for others who are struggling?


  5. Bonnie says:

    Dear Friend, Yes, that does happen occasionally. My joy has been annoying to others at times. At the very least, I suppose it’s an opportunity to continue in self-reflection and compassion. At some point, maybe even the annoyance of others brings about a kind of paradoxical inner joy because we get to do the work of loving self and other. I’m not there yet! But I do see glimmers of hope. Love, Bonnie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pujakins says:

    Beautiful piece of writing and the love blossoms from every word. Are you a Sufi initiate? Or just a mystic who appreciates the lovely embrace of wisdom this set of teachings embraces. I have been associated with Sufism since the 70’s, and though not part of any group, embrace the teachings with joy and gratitude.


  7. So beautiful! Thank you.


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