A Pocket-Sized Mystery: A Writer Wednesday PostJanuary 23rd, 2013 | Posted by in Essays
Here at my retreat last week, I took a walk in nearby snowy fields (note footprints above) and called my older sister. She’s in a friendly phase of Alzheimer’s, and I knew I could give her a definite moment of glee describing the snow. She’s overjoyed she never has to deal with it again in San Jose, and relishes every opportunity to say so.
After our conversation, while putting away my phone I felt a long thread inside my jacket pocket. I snapped it off and was about to throw it on the ground to let it biodegrade, when the thought arose that perhaps a bird would find it useful for its nest come spring. This field was ringed with tall spent weeds. I chose one close to hand and dangled from its frizzy head the long blue thread.
May not survive the winter blasts, I thought. But if so, it might prove useful to a fellow creator.
I went on my way a bit longer, then turned around. Dreamy winter mists were rising from the snow. A good day for a picture. I reach for my camera, scanning the scene with photo eyes.
There appears to be a white bowl floating deep in the brush. Too far into tangles and thorns to get a good shot, but it looks to be—yes—a nest! Cupping a single fat egg of snow. Nice hello from the universe, nice thank you from the birds. Delightful to feel such awareness at work. I’ll try to capture a picture.
Stepping back to frame it, I glimpse a wisp of teal. There at my hip, dangling from a weed head, the very blue thread I had hung for the nest builders! First, I couldn’t believe that I had even noticed the thread in the midst of all the weedery. (You’ll notice here that even the camera couldn’t be bothered to focus on such insignificance.)
Then I couldn’t believe I had instinctively, auspiciously placed it directly in line with the nest. I walked around to the other side, to look at my first approach, to see if I had seen the nest subconsciously, but it was entirely obscured by thick weeds, branches, tangles, and saplings. It was as if the nest appeared the moment I hung the thread. Or the thread flew to the weed the moment I noticed the nest.
Such pocket-sized mysteries are present whenever we’re present for them. A gift of inward retreat, when we let go accomplishment and just pay attention.
I have a few more days of my retreat left. This is to let you know that I deeply enjoy your comments, but I may be a while replying.