Friday, October 05, 2007

Breathing Deeper on Sabbatical

A Sabbatical Reflection on context:

The Sun had set and the evening had begun to darken -- shadows had ceased to be shadows. I sat comfortably reading in an easy chair next to the sliding glass door. I left the door open and closed the screen and was enjoying the fresh evening air while reading a Psalm of David.

An itch in my nose and then the sound of scraping caused me to turn my head to the screen door that was less than 2 feet next to where I was sitting. A skunk was pressing its face into the screen door. I, in a startled panic, suddenly breathe in and choke on the foul smelling air. Just as startled, I imagine, the skunk in a flash had turned and positioned himself to spray me. I fled my seat faster than I have moved in a long time. I could feel my heart pounding. Once I was fifteen feet away, I turned to see the skunk lumber away from the screen door and out of view. I was grateful for having escaped a possible nightmare of accidental encounters… still am reminded that if the skunk had chosen to demonstrate its power, I would have spent the next month trying to eliminate the pungent odor from the living room … a smell so strong that even a small whiff of it made me choke.

I know for sure that I am not in Los Angeles.

Later that week in the woods, Jude and I see two Great Horned Owls. While I fear skunks, these owls enjoy eating them. According to the local experts… There has been a significant increase in the number of skunks in the larger area. Non-indigenous plants that they like to eat are to blame. I have seen a skunk several times since then and I know I am not seeing the same one.

I am learning not to worry or fear… either the skunks get me or they do not… Worry can’t change the color of my hair (except give me more grey hair than I already have…) or change my height (except bend me over with bad posture…) and why cling to that when God offers his gracious kingdom (Matthew 6) – Time to press further in…

Jude is enjoying bird watching. She’s signed up for a class about birds and is learning the names of all sorts of birds…White-tailed kite, snowy plover, Anna’s hummingbird, Wilson’s warbler (en route to Central America), Great egrets, American Kestral. This gift of naming… intensifies awareness and watching increases wonder and enjoyment. How often do we see without seeing.

In this season I find my sensitivity to life and my enjoyment of it all being restored and refreshed. This is part of what “sabbatical” is for; learning, and a restoration of Holy curiosity, wonder and gratitude.