By James Bishop, Jr.
(January 30, 2019)
If only we did not have to die, instead become ravens
Weary of Arabs killing our men and women; tired of Chinese cutting down Christian crosses; fed up with blowhard politicians and amoral philanderers? Hear rumblings about a bridge at Red Rock Crossing? Forget Canada, the lines are already too long. Instead, find the Valley of the Ravens if survival is one’s goal. Of late, there seem to be more of the noisy, ancient bird around. What are they up to?
Long before Indians, cowboys, developers, and tourists took over our lands, ravens swooped, soared, and abided in the Verde Valley. A flock scared off the first Spaniards while they looked for gold in Jerome, in 1583. Still, the truth of the ravens’ powers lies far deeper in time.
In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy. Word has it that ravens were regarded as symbols of good luck, god’s messengers in the mortal world. According to ancient parables, Apollo directed a white raven to spy on his lover’s shenanigans. When the raven returned with the news that rumors of his lover other lover were true, Apollo in his fury scorched the raven, turning the animal’s feathers black—as they are today, all around the world.
The deeper one digs, the richer the rewards. In the New Testament, ravens are used by Jesus as an illustration of God’s provision in Luke 121:24. Years later Goddesses’ would land on a favored man’s shoulder in the form of a raven.
Few people have ever found the valley of the ravens. Those that have emerged telling friends that they are no longer who they once were. By one account, a wilderness guide called Benny, in a bummed out mood, entered the valley to be greeted by dozens of ravens perched in trees staring down on him—as if they had been waiting. Then, an old raven plopped down in front of him and made signals with its wings. In the distance, thunder rolled as if they were huge bowling balls—and lightning flashed. Unexpectedly, all the wind was sucked out of him followed by a golden glow in his whole body. Ideas tumbled through his mind; voices whispered….more living, more loving, more caring, more dreaming. Then came sleepiness and then an unplanned nap. When he awoke he was all alone, but he was lonely no more. His spirit had returned.