I love being up early in the morning. My children, all home for Christmas, do not. Now that we are in a smaller house, it’s hard to be quiet at 7am when I’m ready to get on with my day. So this morning I took the dog out into a dark and foggy dawn.
A morning walk is a luxury for Minnie. Most days, In the rush to get out the door, she’s lucky to get into the backyard for a few minutes. So I shouldn’t have been surprised at the spring in her step as we walked toward the park.
There is a lovely hush in the first light of day, and I was glad to breathe it in. This is a busy week for pastors, and I needed the calm. It didn’t last.
Once we reached the open expanse of trees and snow-covered grass, the dog began prancing and leaping around (which is hard to do on a leash!) She ran her nose along the snow, leaving the path to find the fluffiest powder. If dogs had knees, she would have been up to them in snow.
I stood there watching her and realized I was smiling. Then I started to laugh at how silly she was and how silly I was smiling like an idiot in an empty park. It was wonderful.
We made our way along the path, leaving behind a strange maze of footprints, with all the zig zagging and dancing around.
When we stopped on the bridge for a breather, I heard the song of a finch in the tree close to me. I looked up and smiled at him, too.
When we finally headed home, I noticed the sound of the small stream as cold, clear water gurgled it’s way along. More smiling. This was ridiculous–a cold winter morning when any sensible person would be huddled a home with a cup of coffee and here I was covered in snow and chuckling at dogs and birds and river sounds.
But this the quiet of Advent as it transforms into Christmas, isn’t it? Darkness gives way to light, and longing makes way for laughter. When we listen for it, the mystery will sweep us up and carry us along its beautiful, snowy paths. Smiles make more sense when I look at it that way.
In these days of celebration, may you venture out to interesting places and listen well. When you are attentive, you will hear heaven and nature sing.