June 8, 2022

‘There’s a whole world out there’

            Do you ever look and not see?

            I’m guilty of that sometimes.

            But usually, I am fascinated by the simplest things.  I like what European author/poet/songwriter Charlotte Eriksson has to say about that. “There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window.  You’d be a fool to miss it,” she says.

            And Eriksson’s right.

            You and I could make a list from here to the South Pole and back of the awful things we see.  In so many ways, the world is upside down, as if it’s trying to implode.   

            What can we do?

            Sadly, too often, the answer is not much.

            But that shouldn’t stop us.

            While we are trying to help others, we need to help ourselves by nurturing and protecting our mental health.  With all the ugliness, it’s easy to be sucked into an unhealthy black hole. And resisting isn’t always easy.

            Most of my days are like a track meet, sprinting from one task to the next.  Many of my teachers declared that I had ants in my pants.  Maybe so.  But I do have a powerful elixir that helps to slow me down and lift my spirits.  You can’t buy it in a store or online. It’s free, a gift from God. It’s called nature.

  I find peace in nature. I savor looking for things that could be easily overlooked, “right outside” my window. But I must turn off the TV, my tablet and my cell phone to absorb the value of looking around and seeing, really seeing.

In the past 10 days, here are two special things that I’ve seen.  One had roots.  The other had wings.  Both were nature’s way to say, “Stop. Look.  Smile.”

In the corner of our asphalt driveway stands a basketball goal. When grandchildren are around, you can hear the dribbles on the blacktop, the bonks of the ball bouncing off the fiberglass backboard, and the shouts of “Nothing but net!”  So far this summer, grandkids have been scattered.  Our backyard is quiet.

Mother Nature noticed that, too. In a crack in the asphalt, she presented an unexpected gift.  I had to do a double take. A petunia—with its two bright pink blooms—had taken root.  For more than a week, I’ve made a special effort to walk over and admire the petite flower.

Simple, but a reminder. 

In a world with all its ungodly evil, beauty still abounds.  But you must see it to appreciate it.

Our farm is a bird sanctuary.  I love the aerial antics of the purple martins.  My favorite feathered friends are the killdeers, large plovers.  Since boyhood, I’ve called them “killdees.”

Right now, it’s nesting season.  One of their preferred spots is in the river-rock courtyard—right out in the open—between two barns.  When we see a clutch of eggs, we surround the nest with orange traffic cones. 

Killdeer parents take turns incubating the eggs.  If you walk near the nest, the mama or papa will make a racket and put on a show.  With noisy broken-wing acts, they’ll try to lure you away.  The theatrics last up to 28 days. And then, you are rewarded with the happy scene of tiny “killdees” scurrying about.

Early morning and late afternoon, I peek at the nest.

I don’t want to “be a fool” and miss a sip of nature’s soothing elixir.

Right outside my window.