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Melting—Yes, that’s the subject I wish to explore this morning. But what kind of melting?

I’d like to wrap words around the shrinking white outdoors, but none come. I sit and wait. A few peek around the corner of awareness, then nod off. Others resemble careening racquet balls, solitary projectiles, unable to relate with anything and drop to the floor. Thus, the challenge in working with words. Still, in the side yard, the plank fence is bare of snow as also the Christmas holly, its red berries diminishing.

Perhaps another day will produce the blog featuring the melting white world outside my study window; its beauty still speaks.

There it was, within January’s mid-morning brilliance, immobile save for yellow-encircled bead eyes in its brown head rotating in all directions. It was the American robin, solitary, its claws grasping one of the bare branches of my lilac bush, their hard tips swelling with promise of color.

As I watched, ancient legends of robins came to mind.

The robin’s russet breast recalled that of another: Moved by the blood-soaked prisoner carrying a cross-beam that morning at Calvary, that robin noted His crown of thorns mashed into His head, plucked out one, and flew off, its breast ever stained with His blood.

Another legend credits the robin for shielding the Christ Child during the family’s harrowing trip to Egypt. A nearby fire spewed sparks threatening the Infant, but were absorbed by the robin.

Such legends also attributed to many kinds of birds—doves, peacocks, eagles, gold finches, larks, owls, pelicans, blackbirds, etc.—found their way into the work of Renaissance artists and suggests their rich imaginal interplay. Indeed, a certain playfulness, in the deepest sense, suggests a faith-dynamic absent in many Christians: Their fire has gone out.

It was so still as I continued watching my robin. Variegated browns and blacks filled out her wing and tail feathers that ruffled in docile breezes.

Then, the robin flew away. Again, I’d been visited, my world enlarged with hope.

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 …

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