Basil [r] spent last night on the chapel roof.

We’re fairly certain this is happening because in the tradition of barnyard fowl pecking order, Basil’s on the bottom. Everyone picks on him, literally. So I guess he finally got fed up with it and decided to hang out in the only other fairly safe place he could find.

It must have been miserable, since this roof is metal and is always wet. His feet may be frozen to the roof this morning; we’ll just have to wait and see how he fared. But I know he’s still there, because I checked on him at 4:15 when I got up, and he was still up there, standing just like he was at 8:00 last night.

We humans do it, too. “They” (that is, the latest out-group) don’t belong here. She’s so weird. He doesn’t fit in. They aren’t as smart as we are, they’re a different color, their sexual orientation or gender identity isn’t “normal” (though by whose standards?). They are from the wrong side of town. The reasons are rife, and the consequences usually mean.

In any number of ways, “they” are from across the border. Locally there is a big move to get rid of people from Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil. They are “illegal aliens” — a sweeping generalization (and a completely artificial differentiation) that is supposed to justify their place at the bottom of the human pecking order. Much of our exclusionary behavior is based on human construct, not on reality. This is my place, and you don’t belong here. Interesting.

But check it out — there are no borderlines on this planet. We are all expressions of Earth, which is one of many expressions of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many expressions of the Universe. The Universe: the One Story. In spite of our long experience of acting as if it were not true, there is no out-there, no not-me. We are all differentiated expressions of the sacred One.

We aren’t behaving exactly like the ducks, though; they are obeying genetic instructions that say each drake needs three or four females to preserve a healthy reproductive environment. The other ducks don’t hate Basil; he’s just one too many on the male side of the ledger at the moment. Should Bernie become duck a l’orange for a local coyote some day, the remaining ducks would immediately rearrange themselves into a new community, and Basil would no longer be the “outcast”. It’s not about him, it’s about what works to sustain a healthy duck community.

We humans might want to rethink the practice of separating ourselves by artificial borders. It really isn’t a very good idea. We may find ourselves on the equivalent of a cold wet roof someday, alone, unable to reach out to or communicate with each other. Which would be truly sad, since we are blessed with wondrous gifts of differentness, one of the immutable manifestations of the essential nature of our Universe. And it well may be that solutions for our current dire environmental straits will arise from within that blessed richness.

So today I think I’ll watch myself closely, on the lookout for my own ways of creating separateness where none exists.

[6:30 AM update: Basil had flown over to the convent roof—and appeared to be his usual sweet and chipper self—when I went out to ring the Angelus this morning. He may occupy the low rung on the duck family ladder, but he’s one tough bird.]

One thought on “Outcasts

  1. what a great metaphor (?) for how people and societies can shut people out – and a reminder that christ spent his time with those outsiders, the basils of his time. advent is approaching – my message is “don’t eat basil the outsider duck for christmas dinner!”
    jen goodnow

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