When I found I no longer had the stamina to work long hours clearing the fallen limbs in the woods around my house, I began to bring a lawn chair and a thermos with me. I still work in the woods, but stop frequently to sit and have a cup of tea. I’ve identified birds I didn’t know lived here and evidence that a bobcat shares the property. Since I’ve slowed down some, I see things I never saw before and find that quiet solitude is not lonely but nurturing, allowing my heart to open to the signs and lessons of nature that surround me.-Sallirae Henderson
I went for a bike ride the other day, and after about a half-hour or so I started to realize just what I was missing. I have a mountain bike, so I was riding along a snowmobile trail that used to be train tracks many years ago. The trail goes through beautiful forests, several gorges that they created many years ago in order to lay the tracks, and some nice ponds and streams.
The problem is, though, that I get so involved in the riding, in watching the path for obstacles and rocks and such, and in the thinking that I tend to do when I’m alone, that I was missing the beauty that was all around me. For all I knew, I might have ridden right by a herd of deer, a moose or two, a hawk or even a bald eagle. I do my best to be as mindful as possible, usually, but there are still many times when I simply don’t see things because I’m so focused on something else.
Sallirae’s passage speaks volumes to me. For her, it took a loss of stamina (I believe from sickness) for her to slow down and look and actually see all that was around her. My sincere hope is that as time goes on, I’m able to make her kind of observations without having to be slowed down by some outside force. I hope that I’m able to slow down and look around me without being ill or unable to move as well as I do now. I hope that I’m able to appreciate life and living as much as I possibly can without getting cancer or a tumor that will give me a different perspective. If those things come, of course, I hope to deal with them well, but I want to learn lessons from people who have been there–after all, they certainly want to teach me. They don’t want me to have to go where they’ve been.
Have you slowed down recently? Have you tried to see all that’s around you and understand it and appreciate it? There’s much more in this world for us to see than we actually see, and it’s up to us to make the effort to see it. It won’t usually make any extra effort to be seen.
Questions to ponder:
1. When was the last time you slowed down in an effort specifically to see more?
2. What kinds of things do you think you might have missed today or yesterday?
3. What may be some of the benefits of paying more attention and seeing more?
For further thought:
A prisoner lived in solitary confinement for years. He saw and spoke to no one and his meals were served through an opening in the wall.
One day an ant came into his cell. The man contemplated it in fascination as it crawled around the room.
He held it in the palm of his hand the better to observe it, gave it a grain or two, and kept it under his tin cup at night.
One day it suddenly struck him that it had taken him ten long years of solitary confinement to open his eyes to the loveliness of an ant.- Anthony de Mello