Monday, December 8, 2008

Morning Meditation

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A light snow had fallen yesterday and last night, so despite shoveling and sweeping several times over the weekend, I was up early to allow time to shovel again before work. I dressed up in my warm layers, donned my old Steger Mukluks, and stepped out onto the front porch, inhaling the morning. It was about 15°, cloudy, still mostly dark, and calm. Perfect weather to be outside shoveling. Having watched my small bird feeder the last few mornings and noticing most of the birds did not arrive until 8am or later, I did not expect any birds to be out yet at this hour, and was taken by surprise when a chorus of birdsong filled the air above me. I searched in vain for the source, a flock of juncos, but could not make them out through the dusky light. I checked the amount of snowfall since we last shoveled – about ½”, and decided I could use a broom for most of the task, which suited me better anyway, since I am loathe to create loud noises so early in the morning. I grabbed my broom and began a rhythmic cadence: step right, sweep, step left, sweep. Step, sweep, step, sweep. I paused when I noticed fresh tracks in the snow crossing the driveway and pondered their source – was this the small dog that lived next door? And this – one of the many grey squirrels who scamper about outside my front window and entertain me so thoroughly? The tiny tracks in front of the garage door I assumed to be mouse tracks, and was glad to see they appeared to have checked out the length of the door and then wandered away when they could find no entrance. Cardinals now joined the morning dialogue, followed soon after by nuthatches, chickadees and even a few goldfinches. How does anyone living in the country ever feel alone with all of this life and activity fluttering about? I stopped my sweeping and refilled the small feeder to reward those who were already up and about, chattering around me, then continued on down the driveway – step, sweep, step, sweep. It is not surprising to me that many eastern traditions utilize sweeping as a form of meditation. My steps and sweeping and breathing all flowed outwards together until I lost track of time and place. Before I knew it, the task was done. I silently offered up a prayer of gratitude, for this beautiful place in the country, for powdery snow, fresh air, meditative exercise, and life stirring all around me. Blessed be!

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