The days are shortening and edged with the crowding shadows of autumn, and the morning and late afternoon hours, when lit, are golden, in contrast to summer’s high bright white and clear blues.
Great Egrets gather with the Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Canada geese and shore birds along the river’s edge, flying down its center, wading in its shallows, or perching high in the trees lining its path.
A great deal of their day is spent in the practice of waiting. They stand, wander, and perch for hours, watching for the curve and contraction of shimmering fish that will serve as their next meal, but they also seem to wait in solitude or in flocks for signals and insights I can’t decipher. Yet.
I am learning the language of deep waiting. It has a hushed vocabulary of few sounds. It is slow-paced, low, and softly musical. I am a novice, learning how to breathe into it and sustain it all day and through my dreams.
When the daylight fades into a dimpsy glow and then darkness, the Canada Geese gather in a huge flock, filling the river on the north side of the bridge at the base of our property. Some mornings I join them before dawn, as they stand sleepily huddled, waking to a new sunrise (this week, around 6:15). They honk, mutter, flap their wings, and turn around a bit. A few swim off in little flotillas, but not too far from the flock, and then, within a few minutes of sunrise, the first shift, furthest north, begins to call and flap and rises in a jagged east-west formation, flying south.
After a minute or so, the next flight follows, and finally, the last line lifts over me and soars away, leaving me with a few Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and a Bald Eagle or two, who continue to patrol the river stalking food and answers, and perhaps the peace it gives them to watch the water continuously flow as the day flows into night. Shore birds hop, pirouette, and prance around the shallows, focused solely on their own next meals, and the green heron always stands alone like a monk in solitude, waiting with mystery and seemingly content with the day unfolding as it will.
I linger for a while, waiting with the waiting, and sometimes return over the course of the day, or watch them standing, wading, and flying up and down the river as I sit and write at my desk. Their presence soothes me and anchors the passing hours in their just-once and eternal import. All these waiting creatures seem to say, “Every moment has meaning; the pace of our deep waiting is a lesson for you.”
We’re back in a lockdown at Full Moon Cottage again, as area ICU’s fill with people who cannot trust science and common sense enough to wear masks, protect others, or prevent their deaths.
So…the people stayed home redux. We wait out the pandemic, and the waiting still offers lessons and opportunities for creating, but this time, for me, there’s greater stillness and the listening has become part of the waiting; the waiting is where and how and why I hear. The pace is slower and the colors more muted. I watch the autumn butterflies flit and flicker through the gardens, and see they are my former life; now, I am the Great Egret, standing in the river, becoming the river and then the dusk, passing into night before another golden dawn returns. I am the shimmering whip of rainbow eluding the piercing beak. I am the Green Heron, allowing my life to unfold as it will. My pace is slow; my listening, deep; I am the one who waits.
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12 thoughts on “The Slow Pace of Deep Waiting”
Reading your post I was wondering how difficult is too often to reach the slow pace of deep waiting in our life! We should try more and more…
Have nice time dear Kitty
Yes, dear Enzo, we sure have been given time to develop more skill and appreciation for patience, waiting, and listening, haven’t we?
It makes me hopeful for who we can be when the pandemic ends. 💕
Thank you for sharing your kind words; be safe and well!
Waiting can be wearying. And frustrating. But there are other ways of looking at waiting, too, as you so beautifully point out. I feel more at peace just looking at all the beautiful photos of the egret and heron, the wading/waiting. I do wish I had more time to just sit by the river (where there really is no place to sit by the one so near me, but there are other rivers in the area.) It’s sometimes hard to just “be.” I’m so glad I have you as a guide, Kitty. ❤️
It’s been a very challenging few years, hasn’t it, Jeanne? Not without blessings, but the spiritual lessons, for me, have been unrelenting in their demand for attention and effort. Like, “Here you go, girl; now grow, dammit!!”
Waiting, listening, stillness, self-care, commitment, patience, surrender… if I turned away, it was always to a form of self-indulgence: sleep, movies, Snickers, over-exercise…and I wouldn’t feel better, of course, so I’ve been trying to find my way back into the lessons that isn’t so exhausting and dispiriting, and it’s working better for me to go gently and slowly, calling on my friends, the plants and animals, the river and stars, my breath and joy as guides. Of course, for me, my God/Love speaks to me through all of these.
Letting go, releasing, and surrender are much more profoundly dear, clear, and important to me than such concepts ever were, though I honored the idea of them.
Still/always learning, but I feel like I’m coming along in my lessons and not resisting as much.
So, I appreciate your kindness and would say I’m probably not a skilled guide, but a most earnest companion on this journey.
I am more than happy to take you as a most earnest companion, Kitty. 😊 Yes, through the last year and a half, I find myself saying, “Enough with the lessons already!” but these are lessons I am working on whether or not there were a pandemic going on. I think, with that thrown in the mix, it is all just heightened that much more. Being single in these times has proven an additional challenge, and of a different nature. Going out, being with friends, sharing nature – getting out of the house – has always been a source of happiness and relief, and then it became dangerous. I am reminded by people I know and love how strong I am, but I wouldn’t ‘t mind not being so strong!
And yes, still we are growing and learning, and still there have been many blessings and so much to be grateful for. I am also reminded in so many ways that my path is my own path and mine alone, and to take heart and to live in my power and take back any I have given away. The lessons never stop, do they?
I suspect if they did we might be very bored, n’ect-ce pas? But I wouldn’t mind giving it a go Avery now and then. ❤️
It does get tiring. Challenges for each of us to face, that’s for sure. Take good care of yourself…and we have your wonderful book to look forward to, which is both inspiring and helps relieve the “sameness” of staying home, for me. 💕
Kitty-thank you!!! For all the images and words invoke….memories. Which linger and age – like wine or cheese-depending on one’s temperament and of course – the raw materials. Grapes … memories…
Cheese… perhaps regrets. Or – memories commingled with regrets.
We eat or drink according to our appetite.
Again, thank you!
Juli, how beautiful. Thank you so much for this. I love your translation of my words and images. Your perceptions are lit and deepening. Yes, according to appetite.
For me, autumn has always offered memories and yes, regrets, to turn and examine and allow their space to speak wisdom…my renewed dance tutorial with the spirituality of waiting is colored by the season as much as by the circumstance of pandemic, I suppose, because the Earth has always been my favorite professor, and now, the lessons are strong in their autumnal themes.
Thank you for revealing more connections for me, and new ways of being with waiting. Slowly.
Gentle peace to you and your beloveds.
Oh, how calm and still I became reading this. It made me yearn to be in your shoes, with you at dawn, [for once] there with the birds….honestly, I SO wanted to be there with you!!! Fantastic post, Fantastic photos, you are so lucky to get so close so so many magnificent creatures, how I wish we can visit one fine day. Happy birthday Larky, how time flies by.
Keep safe… huge love and hugs to you all.xxxx.
Thank you, darling dear! I’m counting on a visit; nothing would make us happier. The birds will be waiting with me. 💕♥️
oh Kitty… my hand in yours across the miles (from IN) and from the hallways of my high school as I teach our dear students. 💜🙏 Thank you for the gift of your beautiful words and slowing reflections. You are treasured.
Thank you for your kindness to me, Jen; it’s so appreciated.
Thank you, too, for the courage and compassion you model for your students and share with them every day. Be safe and well, Jen, and know how deeply grateful so, so many people are for your willingness to offer your gifts and light in service to your students’ growth. Xoxo
Gentle peace to you and your beloveds.