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ENCOUNTERS

As anyone who knows me can testify, I have a tendency to worry about situations occasionally. Okay, a lot. I’ve recently realized that I am not “fixing” anything with this extra concern. In fact, I am making my life more miserable by adding troubling thoughts and anxiety to what could otherwise be a rather peaceful and serene existence. I must say this is NOT an easy trait to redirect. But I do believe it is worth continuing to try.


On a recent walk around the lake at my favorite park, I noticed some beautiful ducks and ducklings quietly gliding across the water. I was about to capture a photo when I looked ahead and saw a gentleman and large dog walking toward me. He kept making eye contact and spoke to me and his companion didn’t like it. The dog lunged toward me, but his owner quickly tugged him back and scolded him for misbehaving. I get it - our small dog often does the same thing. They are simply being protectors when they feel they or their owners are in danger. But, I have a history with surprise encounters with large dogs and I’m always fearful. Anyway, the man asked me if I had seen the hawks. I said no, that I was just watching the ducks. He told me to look up, I was walking right under them. They were being just as quiet as the ducks, but with an entirely different intention. They were majestic and beautiful, as always. I love hawks - actually any bird. I admired them for a bit and thanked the man for pointing them out. 


But unfortunately, after this and many other brief encounters of this type, my mind grabbed hold of the worry train and jumped right on. This time my concern went for the ducks and little ducklings. I believe they were totally unaware of the looming danger from the predator eyeing them from just above our heads. This time, however, I tried to switch my way of thinking to feel more compassion for the hawks. Ducklings are so small and fuzzy and cute; we are automatically drawn to them. But the hawks were most likely living and nesting in that area as well, and may have had little ones of their own to feed. It is so hard to look at nature this way and not consider it cruel. But the hawks aren’t thinking about destroying or harming anything. They simply want to live and help their young ones survive. 


I’ve missed the beauty and blessing of many encounters in my life because I couldn’t just enjoy and live in that moment. When my husband points out a beautiful family of deer crossing through our backyard, my mind immediately wanders to: they won’t survive for long in this harsh environment. They will hear a loud noise and rush toward the busy road or highway and be killed by a speeding vehicle. Then I realize I have totally missed the opportunity to relish the encounter - the chance to observe and appreciate their beautiful movements, their sleek coats, the way their tails flick to message their companions. One stood on her hind legs and stretched as far as she could to reach the branches of a bush they love to munch on. I immediately fussed at my husband for trimming it so much that they’re unable to enjoy this last bit of food available to them. There I go again. 


While it is good sometimes to make sure we look at the big picture, I think a lot of the time it is healthier for me to let God handle that part. God always sees the big picture, and probably wonders why we don’t rest more in the enjoyment of these small, beautiful moments we’re given along the way. Like when you take a child to see a show or something you know they will love, but then something else grabs their attention and frightens them. They usually have a hard time rallying and switching their focus to the fun, amazing parts; even though you are constantly reassuring them that all is well and to please stop worrying - you are there with them. 


As I took a break while writing this, I walked outside with my dog and saw this beautiful sight. I’m calling it my “burning bush” encounter. Of course, unlike Moses, even though I walked up pretty close to capture this moment, I didn’t hear God speaking to me. Or, maybe I did, as I simply took in all of its beauty before the evening sun slowly lowered behind the trees. Thank you, God.



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