While participating in a four day Silent Retreat recently, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Nature. The retreat took place in Dunellon, FL, at the confluence of two crystal-fed rivers, with lots of wooded areas, trails, and boardwalks. One morning I was sitting on a dock looking out over a small pond surrounded by trees – a great platform for contemplation and birdwatching! As I was about to leave, an unfamiliar bird swooped in and landed in a tall tree nearby. He was too far away for my small point-and-shoot camera, so I waited….hoping that he would switch to a closer tree. I wanted to know what kind of bird this was! If he would get a little closer, I could take a picture and maybe identify him once I got home.
I waited for a few minutes to see what he would do. Finally, he flew to another tree. “Good!” I thought, “He’s no closer, but at least he’s moving. Maybe his next perch will be closer.” Unfortunately, he chose to fly even farther away, picking one of the tallest trees along the shoreline.
The dock was really hard, but by this time, I was hooked. I wanted to see what this bird would do next!
I waited….and waited……ten minutes…..20 minutes…..30 minutes. I found myself suddenly curious about what his world view must be while he perched on the tallest of all the trees. I tried to picture the tops of the surrounding trees, the confluence of the two rivers, the boats and other wildlife that must be visible even me, sitting on the dock! The dock was feeling harder.
I wondered if he came to this pond every morning. Is this part of his daily routine? What does he do all day?
I waited….and waited…..it suddenly occurred to me how PATIENT birds are. How many of us take the time to sit and simply observe without having to “do” anything. I probably wouldn’t have been doing so if I weren’t on a retreat. Yet there I was sitting on a hard wooden dock observing a bird perched on top of a tree! Part of me was determined to indentify this mystery bird who had entered my world (or I had in fact entered his?), but the other part was totally mesmerized.
I continued to wait……40 minutes….45……suddenly another bird swooped in to claim his own branch in the same tree. The bird I had been watching flew off with a squawk and narry a look back. Oh well.
A bit stiff by now, I slowly eased myself up, brushed myself off, and meandered back to the cabin – grateful to have shared with that bird the experience of utmost patience.