Salve for the troubled spirit

My troubled spirit was soothed this afternoon.

I was taking a walk around Broyhill Park, a pleasant walking path around a lake.  I set off at a fast clip, sweeping my gaze over the grounds, drinking in the lovely trees, shrubs and flowers.  I looked toward the lake, expecting to see the resident ducks. 

Instead, across the lake, wading along the edge in its awkward grace was a Great Egret.  My breath caught.  It was a gift.  I love herons of all types and most usually see the Great Blue Heron in our neck of the woods.

I kept my eyes on him, marveling that he didn’t seem to mind the walkers lapping his lake.  It seems to me that herons are private birds and easily startled.  To my disappointment, most fly off as soon as I come upon them.  I had hopes that this one would stay put until I made it to the other side and could get a closer look at him.

I rounded the lake, studying him closely, while he stepped carefully, intently searching the waters.  I watched the length of his neck fold down to a tight S and then stretch up into broader curves.

He took off, pumping his wings, the lake mirroring his flight, so close that his right wing dipped in the water.  He must have liked the feel of the water on his wing, because he did it again and again.

Pump, dip.

Pump, dip.

Pump, dip.

I smiled, feeling a girlish desire to kick off my shoes and dip my feet in the water.  To play with the egret.

I watched him land on the bank, stretching his stilted legs ahead of him until they found firm purchase.  Then he stilts his way down to the water’s edge again. 

There is something monastic about the egret, I think.  A deliberate peace.  And then I laugh at myself.  A deliberate peace?

Nah, it is people who must be deliberate about seeking peace.  Then I imagine my bird saying to himself,  “Focus on the beauty here and now!  I should enjoy this time by the lake while seeking my supper.  Now is not the time to worry about paying the rent or how I will educate the baby herons in the nest back home.”

No, my heron has no problems just being who God created him to be.  He delivers the full power of his concentration to the task at hand (his supper), enjoying his work, unfettered with worries of tomorrow’s supper.

Not like I.  I, who have been struggling greatly with the disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots.”  Struggling with a desire to take adoptive children into my home.  Struggling with finances that don’t allow us to aid those whom we want to aid.  It grieves my heart to say, “No, I can’t help you because I have bills to pay.  No, I can’t take a needy child in, because I can’t afford it.”

When I know that, relatively speaking, I am one of the “haves,” saying no to a “have-not.”

My restless, struggling spirit needs to just be still, to wade in the water. 

I head back to the car.  It is 6 pm, and I must go home to wade monastically in my kitchen, focusing the full power of my concentration on supper preparations for those who need me.  And maybe find a way to dip my feathers playfully while I’m at it.

2 thoughts on “Salve for the troubled spirit

  1. I’ve always found you to be a monastic wader.

    Seriously, this is lovely. I know what you mean about egrets. I see them a lot on the way to work at the reservoir at the airport. They seem incongruous at a man-made lake right next to an airport, as if the place where they choose to hang out cheapens them. But they don’t care. They’re just birds.

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