Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The other morning I looked out the window onto the bird feeder and a small bird with bright yellow striping, a Townsend’s Warbler, caught my eye.

Underneath the bird feeder amongst the fir cones and leaf litter still cluttering the wood deck a Rufous-sided Towhee scratched for seeds alongside three Dark-eyed Juncos. Then a few Chickadees flew in for a landing on the feeder each taking one seed and flying off to the rhododendron for shelter.

A few years back I took a morning bird watching class at Discovery Park. I learned some about our native birds and was able to catch a glimpse of a juvenile Spotted Owl.

For a while I took my binoculars on my morning walk and enjoyed hearing bird calls and then searching to find them. After a while I stopped taking my binoculars but I continue to listen for bird calls which fill me with delight.

This year the time between Christmas and Easter is about as long as it can get, from December 25 to April 24, so we’ve had a little extra time to move through the hardest parts of winter. The returning light feels particularly welcome this year and I have taken heart in the courage of the sturdy daylilies beginning to poke their leaves up into these really, really cold days.

As we approach Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6, there is still time to think about what steps you might want to take to include time for prayer and reflection in your daily journey.

For many years now I have made it a practice to start some kind of spiritual practice each Lent.

One year I began a prayer journal, clipped pictures from magazines, glued them in the journal, and then wrote short prayers.

One year I began a time of focused reflection on the work of the writer Parker Palmer.

One year I played music and moved my body in ways that felt a lot like prayer.

And one year I sat in quiet meditation soaking up God’s love and mercy.

From these experiences what I know is that the form of prayer does not matter. What matters is that I choose something and do it.

From these experiences what I know is that it is really, really difficult to do one thing (other than brush my teeth) every single day.

And from these experiences what I know is that the important thing is to pick up the practice again and again and again.

I’m not sure yet what form my Lenten practice will take this year but I’m looking forward to it.

Maybe I’ll sit in the living room and stare out at the birdfeeder and offer simple prayers for the birds of the air who, as Jesus observes, “neither toil nor reap” but know God’s tender care nonetheless.

Something tells me I could learn a lot from them.

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