Nothing is ever the same

Nearly every day for the past four years I have walked on the rail trail that runs near my house. Rain or shine, snow or wind, winter or summer, my dog and I head out to walk the flat, straight, smooth path.   

A few months ago, I was talking with a neighbor, and I happened to mention my love for the rail trail. "The rail trail?" she cried, "I can't stand it! It's so boring!"

I can see what she means: it's the same flat, straight, smooth path every time.

But I love it.   Because although it is the same, it is never the same! I see new things every day: A dead tree, pale and stripped of its bark, peppered with perfectly round holes. A garter snake, slithering away into the grass.   The leaves of a maple, ready to unfurl. A red-tailed hawk, soaring high above the field.    The sunlight, filtering through the branches, creating patterns before me.   The turtles, sunning themselves on a half-submerged branch in the pond. The clouds, reflecting on the water. A porcupine, lumbering through the underbrush. The roar of the wind blowing through the tall pines... I could go on!

There are infinite things to notice on my walks. Or as I say to my daughter when she complains of being bored: "Nothing is boring. You just need to pay attention!" (Trust me, that doesn't go over super well with a 12 year old.)

But for us - who have had our lives curtailed, circumscribed, reduced and restricted - there is much to notice, even in our homes.

Many have written about how in the midst of all the horror, this time is an invitation go inward, to sit with our feelings, and to pay attention.  So I invite you to notice the details of that tree outside your window.  Look closely at the painting that has hung on your wall for decades.  Watch the birds against the sky at dusk.  And if you are living with others: pay attention to THEM.  What have you taken for granted?  What about their face, their voice, their movements, have you long forgotten to notice?

Nothing is ever the same. Nothing is boring.

In this time, may we pay deep attention to all that is around us, and within us. And may God's face be revealed in what we see, and what we hear, and what we hold dear.