A Gift of Pause
Light snow is falling in various directions, as if the snow globe was turned upside down and now all the glitter bits are swirling and landing where they will. It’s quiet inside my son’s apartment. The sounds of the city fade as life slows down and the humans take a pause and wait for the snow to melt. I wonder sometimes what people do in the pauses of life, when stillness is delivered unexpectedly, by chance, by storm, or by choice.
In nature, when human goings-on go quiet, the wildlife takes notice and appears more freely, moves about with less caution. Oftentimes at home when I bring myself to the woods, I listen for birds, for critters, for movement in and around and above the place I have entered – home to other things. When I take a long enough pause, I begin to see and hear things not noticed while in active movement. A hawk flies overhead, a chipmunk sends warning chirps, the squirrel rustles the leaves in complete camouflage. The gentle hum of the forest and the growing quiet in my own mind, causes the inner dialogue to pause and the awareness and wonder of what’s going on in the woods to be more present.
During this wintry visit with my son , we took his puppy on an outing to a park nearby. There were six or seven street blocks to walk before reaching the entrance to the park. What was interesting about this part of the journey and this particular puppy, is that every block, she would stop and sit down on the sidewalk, without budging, no matter our encouragement or complaint about the cold. Stop, sit, pause, watch, go. Block after block after block. And I wondered, why did she do that? What was she watching for? So, to find out for myself, I decided to do the same, except for the sidewalk sitting. Stop, pause, watch and go.
What became apparent during this copycatting was all the things I noticed with great detail and wonder, that I may have completely missed, had I not stopped to pause and watch, rather than just go, go, go.
A small flock of 40 to 50 sparrows was chirping quite loudly and covering a wintry bush like ornaments on a Christmas tree, creating warmth as they clustered together. No one on the street seemed to notice at all as we walked by.
The little lines of snow on the edges of the bricks that stuck out farther than the other bricks on the buildings we passed, created little ledges for the snowflakes to rest and gather and add depth and shadow to the building’s facade. Quite beautiful.
The joyful faces of a young mother and father reflected the wonder of discovery in their newly walking child as she explored the snow that fell from somewhere way beyond her comprehension. And I was reminded of my own young mother moment when my son stood in the falling snow for the first time, trying to catch the flakes with his tongue.
In the busyness of life on the planet and life in the 21st century, we oftentimes forget to stop and take a pause, a moment to take notice, to look up, to breathe, to remember the why of what it is we are doing. Perhaps the puppy has a built-in curiosity about the world around her, strong enough to cause her to stop right there on the sidewalk, whether the walkers want to stop or not. And perhaps the child has a natural inclination towards exploration, discovery and inquiry as she wonders what the snow will do when the wind catches it, or what it might feel like when her mittens come loose, or even where it comes from.
Life grants us many opportunities to take a pause and ask ourselves, “What am I doing right now and why am I doing it?”. It’s up to us to take the journey to find out.
- Maria Pierleoni