I crunched down the snow-packed trail, following my 4 year old friend Wesley. We wove here and there along the path…stopping to look at animal tracks and other interesting distractions. And to pick up a feathery pine branch and drag it along behind us because…well i’m not sure why…but i guess it was just too interesting to leave alone in the woods.
Then we stopped in a clearing and waited. Wesley stood very still, arm outstretched, bird seed resting on the palm of his mitten.
He stood very, very still.
In case you don’t grasp the full weight of those words..maybe you haven’t spent too much time around 4 year olds. But in my daily kindergarten observations…there are not too many moments when ‘very still’ applies to a 4 year old body.
But I watched as he waited with hardly a twitch. And with a flit and a flutter, almost before my eyes registered its landing, a chickadee had come and dined and flew off again to a safer perch. Another one, watching the success of his feathery friend, dove down, and helped himself to the offered delicacies. Wesley was delighted with each visitor, thrilled to see the seeds and nuts disappearing off of his mitten.
Catching his excitement, I joined my little friend with an outstretched arm…and I waited. A black capped friend eyed me from his perch in a near by bush, not sure of the safety of this offer. But he took the plunge, encouraging another, and another, to enjoy the offered snack.
It was getting chilly, so we turned around and crunched our way back to the parking lot, leaving the chickadees to trill their thanks as we departed.
What a highlight to an otherwise grey February day!
When was the last time you really stood still? The kind of stillness where a chickadee could rest on your finger? That moment in the woods reminded me how hard I find it to slow down. To really stop. And even when I’m encouraged to slow down in body by life’s interruptions…a wait in the grocery line…a doctor’s waiting room…my mind continues to race, anxious for things to hurry up, checking the clock, pulling out my phone to keep the minutes from dragging along.
But sometimes we experience things in a whole new way when we really stand still. We can see the charcoal feathers of the chickadee’s black cap up close, and feel the light ‘plop’ of his weight on our finger. We can listen to his song trill in our ears, if only for a moment, and imagine he is thanking us for stopping by with gifts.
I was recently reading the command that Moses gave to the people of Israel as they approached the Red Sea in Exodus 14. They were fearful of what was in front of them, an uncrossable expanse of water…even more fearful of what was behind them…being chased down by the entire Egyptian army, angry at the loss of their slave labor. If there was ever a time to be anxious…I think Moses and the Israelites would have had good reason to want to MOVE and DO SOMETHING.
But Moses tells the people…
‘Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you…and you will hold your peace.’
Stand still…watch and see. Hold your peace.
Watch…as God rolls back the waters of the Red Sea…making dry land appear. Watch…as He fights for His people and defeats the entire Egyptian army with one flick of a rod, and a strong east wind. Watch…and see…the Salvation of the Lord.
And I wonder if that time in the woods with my 4 year old friend Wesley was a whisper to my heart…a reminder to Be Still and wait. To calm my heart anxious for answers..and anxious for action. Wait for God to act on my behalf…on behalf of those I love. Wait for answers. Wait for hope…and healing. Wait for doors to open. Wait for clearer vision.
And be ready to see the seas part…or a chickadee come into view.