AND Stay Alert to Small Signs

March 8th, 2015

Amidst feet of snow much taller than I am, an early sign of changes to come presented itself. And even though it had snowed several hours earlier, the temperatures rose and the sun peeked through the clouds. The thaw was beginning, as snow began to puddle and roads melted to the pavement. And I like to think that spring is whispering its eventual arrival in colder climates, even as it does so more loudly in warmer ones.

This wonderful whisper got me thinking about whispers in our lives that we sometimes ignore until they become a kick in the seat of the pants or state of illness that finally gets our attention. Early changes usually, in my experience, whisper their arrival. They don’t yell. If we want to hear the whisper, we will need to be present, alert, and open.

We will need to find the courage to welcome whatever comes. That means not dismissing things we are afraid to acknowledge. It means letting go of the fear of being let down and disappointed if the whisper does not stay or become greater. For example, if one day of warm temperatures does not lead to more days of warm temperatures, at least there was one day of warmth. It means we will need to become witnesses to life, as it unfolds, rather than investing in useless efforts to control it.

We tend to wait for things to get so big that we have no choice but to address them. We tell ourselves about change occurring in a kind of big bang way when maybe that picture is more a reflection of how open we are to witnessing the flow of life, as it happens.

To witness the flow and experience the joy of simply being present means that we will need to detach from trying to preserve what moments we would label positive, and release or avoid the ones we would label negative or scary. We will need to abandon labels about what is happening, taking things as they come rather than taking them personally, as if they are about us. We are invited to instead watch with awe and fascination, as life unfolds in front of our eyes—a rather effortless activity that awakens us to the flow of life itself.

As I shoveled the snow, I stopped to listen to the songbirds in the fir tree. Their song was so beautiful against the clear blue sky that it filled me with beauty and joy. The robin that sat on one branch, as I shoveled, was unfazed by the snow. AND the warm temperature arrived unheralded, only noticed by being in its presence to know it was there.

More cold arrived within a day. Something new will arrive tomorrow. And spring will come to stay in its own time. The more aware and present we are, with no expectations or judgments, the more able to witness the small miracles of life and benefit from their presence in our lives. There is a great gift in the small signs. AND we need only stay present and alert to receive them.

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