Dance in the Bat Cave

I was on the platform, writing a poem. The night hung in inky stillness just beyond the perimeter of the house. All at once a bat skimmed within inches of my head. This, by itself, isn’t unusual. But what followed was. He streaked past, silvery, soundless, lightning-quick. But he didn’t leave. He circled the light hanging over the dining table. He looped through the bedrooms, out the opening above the bathroom wall, back through the front door, over the platform, under the platform, dizzying in his speed. I watched with horrified fascination, huddling crouched behind my computer screen.

Then there were two, flying in tandem, silver streaks, graceful, ghostly in the night. And then a third. They split up, like Blue Angels, performing an air show of astounding precision. Unnerved and outnumbered, I grabbed my notebooks and phone, scurrying to the bedroom where I could shut the door, lower the blind, and watch out of reach. As I was executing my mad dash, one of them passed at knee height, slicing the air in front of me. Heart thumping against my ribs, I bolted into the bedroom, fumbling to pull the door closed behind me. I threw my armload of stuff on the bed en route to the bathroom door and slammed it shut. Adrenalin surging, I sped across the room to the window with no glass. That morning I had methodically wound the rope that lifts the blinds a few extra turns around the post for good measure. I tore at the string for agonizing moments, certain that one of the flighty creatures would streak in and not find it’s way back out. The blind released.

Safe at last, I moved back to the door, opening it a crack. They were still there. I stood, watching the aerial ballet, transfixed. They knew where I was, of course, and they wanted me to know they knew. Their pattern shifted. One by one they skimmed past my nose which was pressed into the observation crack of the door. I don’t know how long it was, 20 minutes…30…but on and on they danced for me until there wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that this was a visitation. Someone bolder may have joined them. They seemed to want that. But I am not someone bolder.

Bing image

Bing image

Wouldn’t I love to know what that was about! Maybe my three daughters visited me in spirit last night. Maybe a series of three events will happen. During meditation this morning another thought occurred to me. I was entranced by the beauty of the bats in flight. There was no furry ugliness, no dark threat, just streaks of liquid silver pirouetting in the light. Perhaps fear is like that, posing as a black demon that incapacitates and renders helpless. But maybe, like the bats, there’s a different truth. If we find our way past the illusion, there may be a wild, silvery dance just beyond the fear.

TV, Vampires, and the Lost Baby

It’s early. I’ve just finished breakfast and I’m sitting on my balcony in that semi-dream state induced by a full tummy and tropical warmth. I’m startled out of my reverie by a distinctly surprised British accent echoing up from below. “What’s this black thing on the sidewalk?!” My curiosity piqued, I peer down and see my neighbor bent over looking at a small dark spot. Ketut joins her. In the next breath I hear the proclamation, “It’s a baby bat!” I race out my door, down the steps and, sure enough, the little guy is too young to fly but he is flopping about on the walk surrounded by enormous humans.

As we tower over the infant a discussion ensues. Where did he come from? I suddenly remember this morning seeing a woman with a knife enter the thick growth three feet from the path. An intense rustling and shaking of leaves ensued and I saw her exit the thicket with several large banana leaves. I report these facts to my friends. Now it makes sense to Ketut who explains that bats live and nest in the deep conical recesses formed by the huge leaves. “Woman cut banana leaf for ceremony, bat fall out,” he says.

We continue to fawn over the grotesque creature. What is it about babies? I hate bats. I don’t know if its tales of vampires or having my head dive-bombed by those shadowy specters after dark, but I have an extreme illogical fear of them. And yet, looking at that tiny, defenseless blob, struggling to fly on immature wings, terrified, I feel something almost like love. Perhaps it’s a semi-dormant maternal instinct kicking in. Ketut evidently feels it too. He disappears for a moment and returns with a piece of banana. Scooping up the struggling creature on a leaf, he offers the treat to a mouth that, for a baby, already displays an impressive array of razor sharp fangs. The bat doesn’t eat and eventually our interest wanes, but not before he is secured on a vine-covered rock under a makeshift banana leaf shelter.

Imagine a place where the business of living each day provides more entertainment than hours of canned programming. Imagine if you will, actually being involved in the unfolding stories, not as an observer, but as a participant. Imagine a setting where drama is played out without cameras rolling or sound bites recorded, where you don’t need to tune in to experience the pathos of daily existence unfolding before your eyes, where the news is mostly good, but when there is tragedy it is personal and people rally around those who are suffering. Welcome to my world where living requires 100% participation and there’s no time left for TV.

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