Distracting Winter Winds

It was a sunny -2 degree Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday, so I took a walk. As I made my way through a little park, I suddenly noticed a bird, chirping loudly and flying overhead. I stopped to look up and try to identify the bird. Then the wind blew, and I huddled back under my jacket and started walking quickly again, but frequently glancing back to see if I could glimpse the bird.

A whitebreasted nuthatch playing hide-and-seek with me on a day that I was paying attention

As I walked home, I realized how much I miss birdwatching. In the chill of winter, especially with that piercing cold wind, my walks are more about exercise and getting places, and not really about enjoying my surroundings. The discomfort of the icy winds blowing through me trick me into rushing.

A question rose in my mind. What are the “winter winds” in my life that distract me or hustle me away from paying attention? As a writer, as a contemplative, but also as a human being, it’s important to me to pay attention. Sometimes the details in my life–or the significance that I give to them–can be the key to understanding the bigger picture. Deadlines, a New Year resolution to “accomplish” more, the satisfaction of completing my own agenda–these can become my “winter winds” that hustle me through the day and prevent me from paying attention–to the people I live with, to the invitations of God in my day, or even to the movement of the Spirit within me.

As I walked the rest of the way home, I deliberately stopped a couple of times to observe the neighborhood and to try to find a cheeping hidden sparrow. The winter sights may not always be as pretty as spring or fall, but they offer stark contrasts, which can be just as beautiful.

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