River of Time

from by Ian McFeron

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River of Time - Story

There’s a red tailed hawk that lives in the marshlands across the street from my house. We mostly see him in the wintertime, though our neighbor, who is an avid bird watcher, thinks he lives in the area year-round. He doesn’t come around every day, which makes it that much more special when we look out and see him perched somewhere, usually on top of that gnarled old birch tree that looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. We named him Francis after the Pope. We figured that, like the Pope, he lives by an exacting set of laws- Francis the Hawk by the laws of nature and Francis the Pope by the laws of religion. Both of these sets of laws are heavy and unwavering. They cut like sharpened steel. But they are nurturing as well. Like a mother who provides for us when we are in need. Francis the Hawk has no choice but to live faithfully by the laws of nature. Francis the Pope has made a hard choice to devote himself faithfully to the laws of religion. And the rest of us seem to kind of float between these two worlds. Sometimes it seems like we don’t belong in either one.

So I was drinking my coffee one morning and Alisa says, “look, there’s Francis!” I set down my mug and I walk to the window and I pick up my binoculars and I watch him. He’s circling the sky in broad sweeping motions, occasionally catching an up draft, occasionally pumping his thick downy wings. He never beats them incessantly like the barn swallows do. He’s never in a hurry. He’s always cool.

I got caught up with this bird, and I thought about the rhythm of his life; all the constraints of his existence that he navigates out of pure instinct. Constraints not entirely unlike the ones that I face; driven by competition for resource, the passage of time, and the inevitable spilling out into the broad ocean of some other world beyond this one. Or so Pope Francis helps us to think. And I thought about Francis the Hawk floating on the sky, shaping those breezes with feathered wings, and I felt like I was floating along some ancient river whose waters came down from some mountaintop so far away and so engulfed in mystery that we don’t even know if we believe it exists anymore. And I thought, “this river is floating away into that broad, eternal ocean. I don’t understand any of this at all.”

So I watched Francis and I admired him. Cut out against the clear blue sky.

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lyrics

River of Time - Lyrics

Red hawk outside of my window
Well he don’t worry
He just goes where the wind blows
And me, ain’t never tried to fit in

Summer grass in the rolling field
But this photograph just don’t catch the way it feels
Cause it won’t stand still
All the colors change and the light fades all over again

River of time
I’m just floatin’ like a leaf on the stream
I close my eyes
See the white clouds and the blue skies
Wishin’ that I knew what it means
You said “life is like a waltz through a dream”
But what is dreamin’?

Young girl in a white church dress
Layin’ out that red and white picnic spread
Next to me
Where does it run to when a moment disappears?

I wanna know how it feels
To be unchained, how to walk on the wind
I wanna know where it comes from
Where it goes to- how to disappear and come back again

credits

from Radio, released February 27, 2015

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Ian McFeron Seattle, Washington

Ian McFeron’s writing has been compared to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Ryan Adams. Over the course of a decade-long independent music career, he has attracted media attention stretching across the Atlantic. He currently tours in support of his 7th album Time Will Take You, recorded in Nashville with members of Ryan Adams band The Cardinals as well as Patty Griffin and John Hiatt’s touring bands. ... more

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