Contemplating Avian Angels of Death

                                                     Photo borrowed from Emperor Ken's World website



A flock of vultures clusters on the transmission tower.  Black wings folded, they sit like silent statues oblivious to the curious little woman who peers up at them from below.  If I were dead or dying, they’d surely perk up and take an interest, but I’m not dead.

   Not yet.   

I’m just an eccentric old hippy in sensible shoes and tie dyed dress ambling down West Outer Drive on my morning walk.  Age, I notice, has transformed my vision.  I used to think vultures were ugly, even creepy.  But today, with their sober, bent bald heads, they strike me as impossibly beautiful; like kindly angels of death.  


   I pause, transfixed.

As harmless as lambs, vultures don’t kill anything.  They are, rather, the under appreciated garbage collectors of the world, the humble scavengers who clean up the inevitable stench and decay of that most dreaded destination toward which all living creatures must travel: death.


   I can think of no more noble calling.

I’ve read of ‘sky burials’ in which a human corpse is left on a mountain top, high holy ground, or even a temple platform, to be devoured by carrion eating birds like vultures.  A sky burial seems ever so much more beautiful and ecologically sensible to me than our wasteful western way of pumping a corpse full of chemicals, sealing it in a stainless steel box and burying it six feet under ground.


But I’d hazard a guess that, other than on some Native American reservations, sky burials are illegal in every state of the union.  There is, however, a growing interest in simple, more natural burials in the United States.  If you, like me, are interested in green burial options in your locale, you may be interested in taking a look at the Green Burial Council website. 


I told my husband and children some time back that I want a natural burial, and God forbid that one of them should go first, I'll arrange the same for them. It's my hope that, short of a sky burial, after death my body can be recycled and given new life in the leafy fronds of a weeping willow tree.  How about you?  

As always, I ask you to share my little website with other people.  I’m an indie artist with no advertising other than word of mouth from kind folks like you.  Thank you.  

Be Well and Good Luck,

Martha Maria   


1 comment

  • Tamara Miles
    Tamara Miles
    Love this, Martha. I will pay close attention to the next vultures I encounter.

    Love this, Martha. I will pay close attention to the next vultures I encounter.

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