There is a bush that blocks one of my front windows. I love light coming into rooms so I wanted the bush removed. However, sitting in the living room I began to notice a robing flitting back and forth in the bush. I loved seeing the robin sitting there, remembering many people finding comfort in the appearance of robins at Willen Hospice during the death of their loved ones. As I sat in the chair in the morning, I looked forward to the brief appearances of the robin.
But the bush was still overgrown and blocked light. So I decided, rather than cutting it all the way down, I would cut it back. I did. To my delight the robin and another small bird have continued to bless us with their presence in the bush—now half its size.
“Every day I listen to the dirt. What are you telling me? What do you need? What do you want to give?” Dirk Gianinni, fourth-generation farmer in Salinas, California
During this pandemic, I am listening in new ways. I continue noticing the robin in the bush in the front garden, but I am also noticing the birds in the back garden. (I discovered that female blackbirds are brown.) I am noticing the birds nesting around Roath Lake. I am noticing flowers. I am noticing signs in windows. I am noticing people who pass my house every morning. I am noticing and listening. These are spiritual practices.
I am conscious that for some people this time is very busy and overwhelming. But for me there are less meetings to rush to and from. There are less distractions so I am trying to listen and notice the world around me—the creation and the Creator.
What am I being told by what is around me? The lockdown had highlighted that I basically have everything I need. I am listening to this lesson. If I return to Dirk Gianinni’s words, I guess I only need to ask what do I need for today and what can I learn today. I do not need to worry too much about tomorrow. As Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.” Matthew 6.34 Instead, I will pray with Jesus, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
And I ask what can I give? This question has to be asked in a remote context. How can I give to someone who I cannot visit today? Whose life can I touch, without touching them? The answer is different depending on the day, but asking the questions reminds me that there are many ways to give. Which one will I use today?
So in the days ahead I will continue noticing and listening for the lessons of each day, trusting God for what I need for tomorrow. I will continue to offer myself in service, despite the limitations of lockdown, and hope that God will use my efforts to encourage someone else today.