Sometimes, like a winged one, we simply need a moment, a few days, or a week or more of sanctuary, where we can stop to find haven and rest—deeply, right down to our cells. To feel safe. Be fed. Mingle with others of like feather and appetite. And in winter’s changeability, to be lucky enough to catch a few Sunrays, snoozing in the gentle breeze, tucked within the (more or less) hidden center of a naked pear tree.
Last week, we were fortunate to have a visitor who suddenly appeared from nowhere and yet was an utter joy to see in its boldly patterned garment of orange and varying shades of medium brown. A colorful Varied Thrush. This handsome thrush, with its brown necklace across its breast, is a common inhabitant of the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, and in winter is often seen foraging in woodlands, parks, and gardens—digging back and forth with both legs or tearing up moss and debris with its curved bill, searching for tasty items, like insects, earthworms, acorns, berries, and seeds.1
Considered more elusive in its behaviors than the more-common American Robin, our little visitant managed to find the secluded, bird-feeding area, tucked in by the protective arborvitae hedge, on the north side of our home. We have never had a Varied Thrush find this safe eatery before, so its arrival was a moment to celebrate! A blessing of the New Year and a fortunate sign!
Perhaps a young bird born last year, it was extremely jittery, wary, and on high alert in the first few hours of its landing in our “Song Sparrow hermitage,” but as the juncos, house sparrows, towhees, warblers, house finches, and scrub jays came and went, getting little energy snacks of millet, suet, and shelled sunflower seeds, the thrush seemed to visibly relax and settle into the mixed, winter flock. Finding its own pattern of the “feeding station” rather quickly, and being larger than the others except for the pushy scrub jays, the thrush had no challenge assuming its rightful place in the pecking order. Soon, it too was happily satiating its appetite in our sheltering place.
Like the varied thrush’s respite, there are moments and periods along the Path when we too require a quiet, safe place of sanctuary, away from the noisy world’s competitive pace and grinding hustle. A place of solitude and privacy, where we can enter into stillness and rest—deeply—consciously tapping the invisible roots that sustain our visible life. To feel spiritually safe and attended to by a loving Presence who is aware of all our needs. To be fed with food not of the Earth but by an inner Essence that nourishes us completely and renews our Creative life force to more vibrantly circulate once again. When community is desired, to share with others of like heart who honor the tranquil, soundless Space of Hermitage. And if we are fortunate in our serenity of inward peace, to behold and partake of the golden Inner Light, the Divine Light that permeates and maintains the Universe.
It is over a week since the strikingly attractive thrush found its way into the peaceful enfoldment of our garden. We have not seen it now for a few days. Even though I greatly miss our visitor who stopped to find a welcoming refuge, I know it has gone on about its God-appointed way after a few days of nourishment and community. In its freedom of flight to its next adventure, I too am free. In its grace and beauty, I too am filled with greater beauty.
Bless you, Varied Thrush, on your safe Path of Life. Thank you for the gift of lasting joy you brought to my heart in some of the darker days of winter.
Postscript: This morning, to my enormous delight, the Varied Thrush has returned to our garden. It’s back in the hermitage, and life is good… The quality of the moment is of exceeding contentment.
Text © by Zane Maser, 2011. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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