Last Christmas, my aunt (one of Levi’s primary caretakers and certainly his favorite) gave us a bird feeder. She did this because Levi loves birds, as does she. I call them true kindreds.
We were certainly delighted with the gift, though I had never for a second considered having a bird feeder in my yard, and I had no understanding of people who study pictures of birds in books and then attempt to identify them in their backyard. To me this seemed somewhat boring and certainly unproductive. Perhaps as a retirement pursuit it makes a modicum of sense.
Yesterday, I found myself watching my Levi stand in our sliding glass doors so that he could keep an eye on all the activity at the bird feeder. He has spent countless hours over the past year at these sliders or in our dining room window just watching, pointing, chatting, and, seemingly, day dreaming (or the baby/toddler equivalent). I am as enchanted by watching him as he is watching the animals scamper and fly in the backyard, and I realized that I now cannot imagine what our life would be like without the feeder attracting this small array of wildlife into our yard. Levi loves to remind us of every animal he has seen in the backyard: birds (he knows cardinals and blue jays specifically), squirrels, kitty cat, bunny rabbit (hop hop), mice, and chipmunks.
My mom gave me a copy of Katrina Kenison’s Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mother’s in Hurry. I found it to be a useful reminder of many of the things I already know. Kenison’s message is essentially, slow down and become present. Her book of reflections on motherhood and family life provides an antidote to the frantically hurried (and harried) lifestyle that we all know so well. Lately, I am constantly reminded of my own role in this “hustle for worthiness,” as Brené Brown calls it, and I’m working hard to fight the urge to do more, over-schedule, show off my productivity.
Kenison, no doubt, would be a huge fan of one of Levi’s favorite “activities” — staring out the window. Most mornings he likes to pull his little camping chair up to the sliders and start his day there, munching a banana and watching. He is practicing his human *be*ing-ness, and I have much to learn from him.
I also hope that as he gets older we can hold onto his willingness (his natural inclination so it seems) to live slowly, to make time to observe nature (or anything around him and us), to just be present. I know that in the years to come screen time will probably become a “thing” — a battle even, and I’ll be reminded of all the many hours he spent in front of windows as his form of entertainment. I think ahead to the years of chauffeuring him off to various practices, school dances, movies with friends, and so on. I feel overwhelmed. Someday I will pull out these pictures and remind him — look, see how still you used to be!? My consummate observer of the world and constant reminder to just be.
In stillness, we find our peace. Knowing peace at home, we bring peace into the world. ~Katrina Kenison