Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop and Look...

Mommy and I went for a walk in our favorite park yesterday.

The sun was shining, making the snow sparkle like diamonds. The winds the night before had blown the snow into graceful drifts, leaving little left on the branches of the tall trees. The wind was blowing less that afternoon, but now and then a gust would come up, sending stinging bits of icy snow blasting against our faces. The snow had turned into ice in places, so we had to walk very carefully. I of course forgot this often as I looked around, enjoying the scene, and after Mommy and I had both slid a little several times, we decided that we should be careful to "stop before we look". : ) So as we cautiously picked our way around the park, we would look up often and when there was something especially pretty, we would stop to look at it.

As we walked, I began to think about the benefits of stopping to look. The park was so beautiful, we stopped often, and having to stop and look made us appreciate the smaller details of the scenery. Instead of taking one glance as we walked by, we paused to enjoy it before moving on. We both exclaimed at times, "I never noticed that before!" as we took the time to really look at what was around us.

The snow was very dry that day and gave a satisfying crunch with each step. Our crunching was very loud, however, drowning out all the lovely sounds around us. Once, when we stopped longer than usual so Mommy could take a picture, I noticed a bird, singing in a tree nearby. I stood quietly, and soon I noticed a whole chorus of birdsongs, that I would not have heard otherwise. It made me realize the things I miss the most about not walking to "work" anymore. I used to love to walk those ten blocks early in the morning during any season, but especially in the winter. Something about the winter makes everything seem still and quiet -except the birds. The birds sing no matter what the weather, and often as I would be bundled up against the cold, stinging rain and blustery winds, I would be cheered by a robin sitting on a branch overhead, singing his song so happily!

-But that's another post for another day.

As I thought more about it, I realized that stopping to look is sometimes helpful, not just in walking in the snow, but in walking with the Lord as well. Christmas is an especially busy time of year for many people. It is easy in the rush of cooking, cleaning, planning, and buying or making presents, to forget to take time to stop and think. Perhaps this snowstorm is meant to give those of us affected by it some time to "stop and look".

Having just finished a very challenging term of school, I am very thankful for the extra time I have during Christmas break, but I'm so used to doing homework every spare moment, I'm not quite sure what to do with my time now. I was ready to jump into anything and everything Christmas, filling up all my time again as I had this fall, but then the snow hit, and everything was cancelled, at least for a while, and I was left without quite as much to do. I have been forced to stop and learn again to enjoy the details along the way. Not having specific things to do each day has given me time to really think about what I read in God's word each morning, instead of rushing through it as it is tempting to do when I am busy. I have time to enjoy the view out the kitchen window as I wash dishes each morning. -I am even beginning to learn to enjoy grocery shopping by seeing it as extra time with whoever is driving there and back with me! And now that I am more or less resolved to the idea of the snow's prolonged presence, I am beginning to enjoy that, too... a little.

I am also hearing afresh the beautiful sounds around me as I pause and let the noise of life's busyness die down. The soft, wet thud of snowflakes against my window, the sound of the birds' trilling songs outside, a distant train's low and mournful whistle, Mommy humming as she works in the kitchen -All of which I would have never heard had I not taken the time to stop and listen.

It is the same with that still, small, voice that God often uses to speak to His children. One cannot hear if one does not listen! It is very important, therefore, to take time to "stop and look".

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