Barbara Brown Taylor, in An Altar in the World, advocates walking as spiritual practice. She doesn’t mean walking and praying as you go. She means walking and being quiet, paying attention.
Some leaves hang on to the tree, curling up in a tight cylinder. Others die in tire tracks, leaving the ice in the rut colored red, yellow, and orange. Still others slice themselves into the snow neatly, leaving heads sticking up as if to see if anyone is following.
This morning, a dead rat’s tail made a stiff, sharp “L” in the snow.
A robin, fat chested and calm, picked at red berries as I stood below, perhaps three feet away. A woman going by said that’s what they do, get fat on the berries.
A poster on a post announced that someone’s shy dog was missing. I forget his name. The word “shy” made me ache.
I could hear an airplane far above, a few muted voices laughing from the houses, the occasional call of the crows as I passed a gathering spot.
A squirrel bounced across the street under a too stubborn fire-red tree.
The crunch of ice under my boots was the only sound for long stretches.
Fuzzy buds on a Tulip tree reminded me that Spring will come.
At about that same spot, on the horizon to the west, the Olympic mountains, catching the sun, made me think of far places in C.S. Lewis worlds, places where those who want to be more real want to go. I could imagine walking toward those mountains, knowing that on the other side of them was the life that would never let me down, never end, never go dark.
Yellow flowers bearing up under the weight of the cold, empty branches curling elegantly toward the sky, small gold leaves from two houses the other way sitting on the snow next door.
All of these things speak to me of what I don’t control and what I cannot create. There is a world out there, happening even now, waiting for someone to pay attention and see.
Barbara Brown Taylor calls it “flagging one more gate to heaven.” There’s divine traffic in every moment, if we’re alert enough to see it.
I didn’t have my camera…