Fascination as a Spiritual Practice.


This photograph is one of many I have taken, somehow trying to capture the inner disposition I feel when I catch sight of the little birds that sit among the Wisteria branches. The view is one I see every day as I sit in my basement study. I have an old blue and yellow striped armchair, crackly stuffed with something rigid and post war, it keeps me upright as I try to mediate. All the methods, following the breath, centring prayer, stillness exercises, guided mediations are like this armchair; well stuffed and giving uprightness, but they fall away when I see the Robin perched on a branch – nippingly picking out seeds from the feeder. His daintiness and delicacy capture my attention as the downward dip of the float catches the anglers breath. Then I see the Chaffinch waiting to go through the same tiny pecking rigmarole.

I began a six month sabbatical in January 2010 and expected to dive into the poetic life with all the prolific vigour that I sensed was pent up, explosively, inside me over my 50 years of living. The waves of self-disappointment were relentless in the first month because all I wanted to do, as I found the pluck to admit it, was watch the little birds.

I developed a cornucopia of feeders, I chased the squirrels on regular basis, I kept them topped up, and I allowed my fascination to grow. I didn’t, nor do I now, feel the need to twitchily name them, I do have a little guide book for the ones I don’t know by name. But I do, with an aching longing, want their world, almost totally uninterested in my human milieu, to become part of mine. I am after all an animal.

In a book called Becoming Animal by David Abram he quotes a Canadian poet – Robert Bringhurst :

A Quadratic Equation

Voice: the breath’s tooth.

Thought: the brain’s bone.

Birdsong: an extension

of the beak. Speech:

the antler of the mind.

These words capture a little of what my fascination has taught me of the last five years. Firstly, I can trust my deepest instincts, even when they seem to go against the ought to’s , should do’s, must be’s that my rational mind scourges me with.  Secondly, the pleasing of the heart and body will lead the mind to a submissiveness to what is, and what is, is in fact, all we have! These words of David Abram put it all far more lucidly than I can.

‘Owning up to being an animal, a creature of earth. Tuning our animal senses to the sensible terrain: blending our skin with the rain- rippled surface of rivers, mingling our ears with the thunder and the thrumming of Frogs, and our eyes with the molten grey sky. Feeling the polyrythmic pulse of this place – this huge windswept body of water and stone. The vexed being in whose flesh we’re entangled.

Becoming earth. Becoming animal,. Becoming in this manner fully human.’

Photograph – Copyright Adrian GR Scott. 

Written by

Adrian G R Scott lives in the Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, he is a poet , writer and amateur photographer. For more www.adriangrscott.com He has studied theology, organisation development and is now working on a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Sheffield University. He has written two books of poetry, one of prose and edited a collection of Poetry by the two writing groups he facilitates. After suffering a breakdown in 2014 he has undergone Jungian Analysis for the last two years. He also facilitates Rites of Passage for men and is fascinated by the stories and poetry that come from holy scriptures, fairy tales and other major world religions. He is especially interested in how we find our way through the world with the help of such stories and poems. ​ His books are available at Buy Books


  1. Hi Adrian – just found your blog while searching for info on Robert Bringhurst and David Abram. I love the way you write and look forward to spending time reading more … 🙂

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