I’m convinced the secret to becoming more attuned to the natural world around us is to teach ourselves to notice what’s right within our visual or auditory range at any particular time. One of my favorite writers, Tsh Oxenreider (you may remember my review of her book Notes From A Blue Bike), posted an article on her blog this week on exactly that. It’s well worth your time:
Tsh’s perspective is particularly interesting in that she and her young family are traveling around the world, so she’s getting lots of experience paying attention to lots of different “three square feet” as she moves from one place to another. Those of us in one place have the luxury of really getting to know our own “three square feet”–or at least those combinations of “three square feet” we encounter on a regular basis in and around our homes. Regular readers of this blog know this has been the thought behind my “View from the Bench” series.
One of the quotes I most enjoyed from Tsh’s article was from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.
“The easiest practice of reverence I know is simply to sit down somewhere outside, preferably near a body of water, and pay attention for a least twenty minutes. It is not necessary to take on the whole world at first. Just take the three square feet of earth on which you are sitting, paying close attention to everything that lives within that small estate.
“With any luck, you will soon begin to see the souls in pebbles, ants, small mounds of moss, and the acorn on its way to becoming an oak tree. …You may even feel the beating of your own heart, that miracle of ingenuity that does its work with no thought or instruction from you. You did not make your heart, any more than you made a tree. You are a guest here. You have been given a free pass to this modest domain and everything in it…Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.”
“…cracking our shins on altars.” This takes my breath away!
I stepped outside my kitchen door two days ago—24 hours after a winter storm had dumped another eight inches of snow on us here in the Shenandoah Valley—and my views in every direction were wonderful. I’ve shared photos in this post. What you can’t see, but I could see when I looked closely, were the tracks of birds, squirrels—and who knows what else—criss-crossing each other in the snow. Patches of ice were blooming with ornate floral patterns seemingly etched by a divine artist. In the rich loam of my flower beds, deep beneath the snow, I can almost hear bulbs coming alive and pushing their way to the surface. Chickadees and cardinals waiting impatiently in the apple tree were scolding me to go inside so they could get back to the feeders.
What’s going in your three feet square feet today? Bring us into your world with a comment below!
Here are the two books mentioned in my post. Buy them on Amazon today: