Monday, January 30, 2006

We live near a huge population of Turkey Vultures. They live at the top of some very tall trees in front of our home. Depending on the time of day, you might not even notice them. They seem to become invisible in the trees where they make their home. If you know what you are looking for, they eventually become evident, one and then another, more and more until you realize it is almost impossible to count them all. I am told there are at least 45 of them; some say there are over 100. Considering their sheer size, I find this to be remarkable.

In the early morning they set off in search of carrion (dead stuff). Sometimes you can see them in the distance, circling. At dusk, they all come home to the tree. They circle before they leave, and they circle when they are returning – gliding effortlessly on their 4-6ft wingspans. They are an eerie sight, almost like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, filling the sky as they return to the castle. Once you get used to them, you can’t help but marvel at how beautiful they are. Sometimes they bask in the sun, holding open their incredible wings for long intervals, perched on the very top of the trees. There were none like these in New York City or Long Island, I assure you.

We first noticed them as we were moving into our new home. My son pointed them out, “Hey, Mom, check it out. The vultures are circling our house. (That can’t be a good sign... although they certainly beat the heck out of the police helicopters…)" We were spell bound. It seems our house is in the flight path. They literally drop out of the tree on a breeze and swoop down over our home, catching the air and circling back up and around. The circle gets wider and wider until they go on with their day’s work. We were assured by neighbors that they were harmless to living creatures (although the many hawk species in the area are another story…). They aren’t noisy, they clean up the dead stuff – they’re fun to watch – as far as neighbors go, they’re pretty good ones (of course, their tree is not on my property. I suppose it would be a bit of mess to live directly underneath them…).

Recently we have had strong desert winds (the Santa Ana winds) come through here. We could see heavy shadows passing over my yard. My son stepped out onto our patio, looking up. The vultures were swooping down over our house, over my son, gliding up and around and coming back to do it again. There were about 10 of them, gliding on the wind for what seemed to be the sheer delight of it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if they were playing. My son didn’t miss a beat. “Surf’s UP!” he exclaimed. He was right. They were surfing the wind.

What an amazing place, this planet earth.

++Thank you for my home and for my neighbors, the turkey vultures. I wouldn’t have asked to move in next door to them, but I’m really glad You put me here. Help me take a lesson from them today. Teach me to use all of my senses to take in this wonderful life. Help me to enjoy every moment, to appreciate even the wind. Help me to trust You enough to glide every now and then. Breathe on me, breath of God.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Thank you all so very much for your kind sentiments and words of encouragement. I am quite blessed by your emails, comments and prayers. Once again, I find my cup is overflowing.

2005 ended in a cacaphony of chaos, building and building toward Christmas, closing abrubtly with the death of my grandfather, and allowing (for a time) everything to stop. It was a peaceful yet eerie silence. 2006 took off at our normal crazy pace, and it seems the sum of the "stuff undone" in 2 weeks off amounts to about 4 weeks of "catching up"!. We are still there now, in the "catching up" phase (although I do believe we see the light at the end of the tunnel...).

Henry David Thoreau once said, "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." Being busy as we are, the temptation is often to bemoan the extent of our "busy-ness". We find ourselves saying we don't have time for this, time for that, life is passing by too quickly...we are not different than many people we know. It is when everything stops that we have a moment to look and realize that we are living quite abundantly. We are feasting without tasting the sweetness of the banquet that's before us. Weekends are a flurry of team meetings, practices, homework, meals in, meals out, chores -- only a portion of what "needs to be done" ever actually gets done. The schedule is impossible (on paper), we are often meant to be 2 places at once. Somehow we manage. Deadlines are met, games are won (or lost), a page turns and it's a new day. I had an old math teacher that expressed Thoreau's sentiment quite simply, "Be here now." He didn't say stop, or slow down even, he said (in essence) whatever it is you choose to do, be there fully when you do it. Engage in it. Enjoy it. Remember it. Whatever it may be.

I find this to be true even in my walk with God. "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him" (Psalm 34:8). Many spend time in God's service, in church, in bible study, "doing time" with/for God. Eating, but never tasting. Sustaining life, surviving -- but not imbibing. I suppose you could take someone else's word for it: God is Good. But the scripture tells us to check it out for ourselves. "Taste and See". This seems to require us to shift from the role of observer to the role of participant. So this is my prayer -- that I might better engage my senses as I plod on through my life. That I might really listen, touch, smell, taste and see -- we are told that life is delicious. I intend to enjoy every bite.

++Thank you for this hectic chaotic life. I can't imagine anything different -- I love this time in my life. You have filled my life with warmth and love and laughter. I can barely keep up with it all. Help me to "taste and see" -- as You know, I'm eating on the run :).