My husband Ian and I love to go hiking. As we’ve done so during the autumn season, I’ve had a really silly goal: To no avail, I’ve been trying to catch a leaf mid-fall. So far, I’ve been completely unsuccessful, and Ian has teased me. But yesterday, while trying to reach this silly goal, I had an even better experience. I got to hold birds!
It was a beautiful moment. Yesterday afternoon, we were hiking at the Kenzington Metropark when we encountered another couple. They were holding seeds, and chickadees kept hopping right into their hands and eating away! This couple generously offered us some seeds too. Completely delighted, we held seeds as birds nibbled away and flittered back and forth between us.
I needed this experience. When we arrived at the park, I encouraged myself to be fully present. Like many, I’ve been quite worried about this election. I’m certainly concerned about the outcome, but I’m also nervous about the level of dissention that exists in our nation. It’s especially troubling as some are threatening violence.
This is a heavy concern for us to bear, and it deserves our best attention and intentional response. It can also become completely overwhelming. If we’re not careful (read also, care-full), we get lost in the stress. We lose our resiliency toward the best response possible, and we begin to miss the gifts right in front of us too.
So over the last few days, I’ve been saying this mantra inside myself:
It has helped me be present when I’m anxious. If the moment at hand involves election coverage, I’m present to consider, respond, and act. If it involves moments of beauty — no pundits could diminish yesterday’s hike — I’m present to wonder and respond with gratitude.
All of this came to mind as birds hopped to and fro between us yesterday. I was reminded of these words from Jesus:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
I don’t want to diminish what we’re facing at this moment. But to this moment, Jesus speaks wisdom: It’s natural to face worries, but if we let them fester, we ourselves are diminished. We have to prioritize living in the present moment, trusting that we will have what we need in order to respond.
Sometimes in complete surprises, we discover just that — like little birds reminding us that they often have more than they need. Even in this challenging time, we can respond from our abundance too.
I also appreciate this piece from my friend and colleague Rocky Supinger: Worrying and Caring Aren’t the Same.