This morning, Scout taught me a big lesson. I went out to one of our walking paths but knew that I didn’t have a lot of time because of another commitment I had this morning. So as we started into the tree lined gravel path, she. Stopped. At. Every. Tree. And. Every. Shrub. And. Every. Plant. We got a little ways along and I was getting frustrated even as I was listening to my daily meditation podcast (which was telling a story about a Buddhist monk and a cat). There was this pulling battle going on between Scout and me. She’d catch a scent and dig her paws in and nose would go down into the shrubs and a few points it felt like she wanted to take my arm with her. So I’d tug her and she’d tug back and it kept going like that.
Meanwhile, my podcast is telling the story of a monk who was trying to meditate and a cat kept coming in the room and jumping on his lap, interrupting his concentration. He’d pick the cat up, take it outside the room, put it down, and go back in. And each time, the cat would come right back. Eventually the monk finally stopped the back-and-forth and accepted the cat’s interruptions. The cat sat on his lap for about 30 seconds and then left and didn’t come back in. All the monk had to do was finally stop fighting and accept. The enlightenment he was seeking that day came in that moment.
So the irony was that I was having a similar battle with Scout even as I was listening to this story. I wanted to get our walk done at the pace I wanted to reach but Scout had other ideas. She had lots of late Summer / early Autumn sniffs to take in. She didn’t care about Fitbit steps or pace. The only thing she had on the rest of her schedule was an appointment with the couch or her bed for her midday nap. So, why not take in every sniff at seemingly every tree and every plant and every flower?
I finally decided to just let go of my “get it done quick” and decided that the rest of our walk, when Scout stopped to sniff, I’d take that time and just take in what was around at that moment. Maybe take some slow deep breaths, maybe look around, maybe pray, maybe listen, maybe all of the above. So, as we started out again, there were lots more stops but there was a lot more noticing going on for me. Including this leaf.
As Scout had her nose right down to a spot on the gravel path, I looked behind us and saw this leaf. The way that it was laying on the path, it looked like a heart laying there on the ground. It was a really simple but beautiful thing to take in. But I probably would not have seen it if we were walking in the way that I wanted to as we began. I would have just gone right on by or maybe even stepped on this little bit of color and beauty there on the path.
There was another point along the way where I was looking up into the trees above me and saw what looked like the shape of a smile made up of several branches. Again, I only saw this because I had stopped and took the time to look around.
I read John 10 this morning and there were more I Am’s in that chapter – “I am the gate” and “I am the good shepherd.” Jesus said in verses 4 and 14 that the sheep recognize his voice and recognized who he is. But it is hard to hear the voice of someone when we are surrounded by other sounds that drown out that single voice or to pay attention to the one calling to us when we are being pulled in so many other directions. This morning, slowing down allowed me to listen and to see what I wouldn’t have otherwise. Hearts in front of me and smiles above.