Yesterday Brad mentioned how I can go seamlessly from conversation with a human into one with an animal without really noticing. He’s right. I talk to Denali as if she’s another person in the room. Brad often gets frustrated because at times it’s hard to know if I’m talking to him or the dog.
Last Sunday we were sitting on the deck with friends watching football. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a butterfly sitting on a marigold. After sitting there for a while, it flew off flower coming in my direction and I said “hello.” A friend asked if there was a kitten or something in the flowerbed. “No,” I replied, “just a butterfly visiting.” The guys chuckled, probably thinking, “Oh Anne” or something like that. J
It’s true – I do go seamlessly from human to animal and, sometimes plants, because even though I know they are different from me, I also know we’re also a lot a like. We breathe and work and feel pain. We all do these in different ways, of course. But, we’re all alive here on this earth together and when you consider the size of the Universe and all that may be out there – these other beings are more like me than I probably realize.
This morning I was caught off guard by my connection to animals. Ever since attending a retreat in Colorado a year and a half ago, I’ve been very aware of birds, especially hawks and other birds of prey. They catch my attention. I see them flying by. I notice them on power lines. As I took Denali on a short walk this morning, I noticed something moving around on the ground in a neighbor’s yard. The closer I got the more I saw and it broke my heart. A hawk of some kind was flailing around in the grass. It was clearly hurt. It kept opening it’s wings to fly but couldn’t. It was hopping around trying to figure out how to get away. As I rounded the corner I kept my eye on that bird hoping it would settle down – that it would realize the flailing isn’t helping. I felt sad for the bird.
We went on with our walk to the end of our path and came back around. At first I thought the bird was gone because I didn’t see any movement in the yard. Then, as we got closer, I saw the bird was still there. But now the bird was still – sitting in the grass calmly. At one point, the bird glanced our direction. I could see the sharp, round beak. I could tell the bird was anxious but also tired. The bird didn’t try to flap away. As we passed, the bird remained still.
Out loud, but quietly I said, “Just rest. You need to rest.”
I came home and sewed a bit. When Brad woke up, I remembered the bird. As I started telling him the story, my eyes filled with tears. I told him how I was sad for the bird, but realized the bird wasn’t sad. I told him how I was scared for the bird, but there was nothing I could do. I’m sure he was a little taken aback by emotional response, but – he knows me and doesn’t get too surprised by these responses anymore!
When I left for yoga I drove by the house and saw a basket turned upside down with a towel over it and a rock on top. The homeowners must have seen the bird and found a way to help. After returning from yoga the basket, towel, rock and bird were gone. I’m trusting someone who had the means to help came to get the bird to help it heal.
Sometimes I long for a basket, towel and rock – something to keep me still and safe, something to force me to stop moving all the time, something to remind me to stop.
As we were walking this morning I was reminded of my sabbatical. Of the long walks on those fall, October days. The walks in which I admired the changing leaves. The walks when I didn’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. The walks when I rested in the presence of creation. Those walks provided me with moments covered in a basket, towel and rock – I was moving externally, but internally I was practicing being still. I was present.
The darkness is beginning to take over again. The nights are longer. It’s easy for me to go to bed before 10 now – just a few months ago it was still light out at 10, there was still so much to do. Now, I’m ready to rest. I’m ready for bed.
Sabbaticals are a gift and one reason they are a gift is due to their infrequency. In 14 years of working, I’ve had one sabbatical. I think that means it will be several years until one comes my way again! So, in the meantime, how do I bring “sabbatical” into my everyday life?
One way is by paying attention. It would have been perfectly possible for me to have never seen that bird this morning. I could’ve been texting or looking a different direction or I could have walked another path. So, why did I leave the house at the right time and go that way? Why did I see that bird and the progression of events that happened to it? I paid attention, so now what?
I told the bird to rest. Perhaps I wasn’t just talking to the bird. Maybe my emotional response wasn’t just because of an injured bird. Maybe there’s more going on?
Just rest. I need to hear that going into this week. As I juggle my work schedule, appointments, quilting projects, yoga, meeting with friends, running, and a trip to see family, I’m feeling a bit anxious. On the way to buy some fabric for a project, I couldn’t stop running through my work hours and how I am going to manage them this week. Then I started thinking about running and when I’d get in a 10 mile run since I’ll be with family over the weekend. All of this on top of the fact that I might be getting whatever cold/sinus thing Brad had last week.
You may not get in a 10 mile run this week and that’s okay. You may have to rearrange some things and that’s okay. You may not go to yoga when you planned and that’s okay.
What’s most important about this week? Seeing my nieces.
Ok, so if you want to make sure that happens and you’re not feeling the greatest, maybe that means you need to slow down? Maybe you need to just rest? Maybe it’s okay if you don’t get 10k steps everyday?
I need a basket, towel and rock.