… When it suits him, the peacock will face you. Then you will see in a green-bronze arch around him a galaxy of gazing haloed suns. This is the moment when most people are silent … “Amen! Amen!” an old woman once cried when this happened, and I have heard many similar remarks at this moment that show the inadequacy of human speech. Some people whistle; a few, for once, are silent …
Many people, I have found, are congenitally unable to appreciate the sight of a peacock … The telephone company sent a lineman out one day to repair our telephone. After the job was finished, the man, a large fellow with a suspicious expression half hidden by a yellow helmet, continued to idle about, trying to coax a cock that had been watching him to strut. He wished to add this experience to a large number of others he had apparently had.
“Come on now, bud,” he said, “get the show on the road, upsy-daisy, come on now, snap it up, snap it up.”
The peacock, of course, paid no attention to this.
“What ails him?” the man asked.
“Nothing ails him,” I said. “He’ll put it up terreckly. All you have to do is wait.”
The man trailed about after the cock for another fifteen minutes or so; then, in disgust, he got back in his truck and started off. The bird shook himself and his tail rose around him.
“He’s doing it!” I screamed. “Hey, wait! He’s doing it!”
The man swerved the truck back around again just as the cock turned and faced him with the spread tail. The display was perfect. The bird turned slightly to the right and the little planets above him were hung in bronze, then he turned slightly to the left and they were hung in green. I went up to the truck to see how the man was affected by the sight.
He was staring at the peacock with rigid concentration, as if he were trying to read fine print at a distance. In a second the cock lowered his tail and stalked off.
“Well, what did you think of that?” I asked.
“Never saw such long ugly legs,” the man said. “I bet that rascal could outrun a bus.”
(From Flannery O’Connor’s Living With A Peacock, September, 1961)
Questions to self:
- Do I default to a focus on life’s long ugly legs?
- Or am I, more and more as God sanctifies me, filled with awe at the mind-boggling works of the Designer of peacock tails?
- If I were to come upon a bird whose tail boasted little planets hung in bronze and green, would my awakened heart beat an “Amen!” at the sight of the “galaxy of gazing haloed suns” in its green-bronze arch?
Oh Father, please make it so.