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Capturing moments of stillness has many faces; in their train, surprises abound and uplift lagging spirits, in this mid-winter afternoon.

Stillness colors washed out grays and browns in January’s shivers; hues of strangeness abound. Hide-strength mud patches glisten in the sun, like used saddles hitched to hooks in stables. Cypress limbs finger shadows upon hand-sized leaves from the nearby London plane tree: everything feels freeze-dried in such moments. Only the sense of smell suggests life decomposing into something other.

Within the stillness of this January freeze, another moment has launched an unfathomable experience, long in the waiting: this very afternoon, an eight-pound baby girl, with brunette hair, was born at home, January 21, 2022. Her first warm breaths initiated parental bonding, filled with fresh colors for mutual growth. Her name is Mary Elizabeth.

Such stillness tickle bells of silent joy. There are no words …

Winter’s lethal touch seems not to disquiet this gray squirrel, seen digging in my back yard, presumably for seeds hidden during warmer climes.

Other eyes, from centuries past, have drawn inspiration from the squirrel’s activities: the Osage Native Americans who roamed these hills. Their surroundings offered food, aplenty, but had to be hunted, cultivated, harvested, preserved, and hidden away from poachers, other Indians or settlers. Survival from fickle weather, for both Indians and animals, was the communal goal.

The Osage perceived all living creatures as gifts from Mother Earth with whom they were inextricably bound. Squirrels were notable for their preparedness, sociableness, industry, and foraging for seeds and nuts, their presence by aggressive and noisome chatter. Identifying with their spirit quickened their own in the midst of daily hardship. 

Even in dire straits, the Osage were reluctant to feed off the squirrel, but did so if critical for survival, with thanksgiving to Mother Earth.

In my perception, the Osage’s proximity to squirrels and all living creatures interfaced with their imaginative story-telling; its rich oral tradition afforded ultimate meaning to their lives. From these depths emerged their legends and sacred rituals; images of squirrels on totem poles.

They knew who protected and guided them.

It’s about air-borne diseases and the air we breathe. It’s about actualizing our birthright. It’s about staying well—and it’s been going on for years, spawning opaqueness in the psyche. Listlessness, confusion, even panic, estrange relationships and distort reality. Flailing for the once-familiar ends—disease has taken its place, and in its wake: fear, suspicion, and incalculable stress.

In my perception, such a scenario exists among us. Pestilence, the fourth rider in the Book of Revelation, still sits astride his pale horse spreading disease and mayhem. There appears no way of suppressing his evil intent, recently targeting planet Earth with the volcanic eruption near Tonga.

But we are not alone. The Psalmist reminds us that Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (119:105) Interfacing with the power of this word in our psychic depths requires prayer, discernment, and rebuilding community with the like-minded. The guidance comes, if we ask.  

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