During the season of Advent, I tried a new spiritual practice. The short days of late fall/early winter seemed like an invitation to go for an evening walk as often as possible. Here are some of the gifts I experienced:
- The evening walk provided an experience of silence, stillness and solitude that my busy neighborhood doesn’t offer during the day
- I noticed twinkling and colorful holiday lights on my neighbors’ homes
- The moon and stars shined bright on clear nights
- The light from the moon and stars shined through the clouds, too
- The fresh air relaxed my body and cleansed my lungs and spirit
- I noticed turkey, deer, squirrel, dog, human and coyote footprints in the snow
- Sirens from an ambulance, police car, or firetruck wailed from Hwy 694
- One night, I had to stay inside because a thunderstorm rolled through the neighborhood
- Many neighbors didn’t close their curtains in the evening, so I saw people sharing meals, washing dishes, watching movies, and talking to one another.
The most exciting moment came one evening when my daughter joined me for an Advent walk. We were telling one another about our day when suddenly something fell from the sky. Hannah screamed and grabbed my arm. I felt wind on my face. I looked up and discovered a turkey flapping its wings just above our heads! That huge bird gobbled as it lifted its heavy body into the highest branches of a nearby tree. Once Hannah and I calmed down, we looked up into the trees and discovered the shadows of at least twenty-five turkeys in the highest branches of a very tall tree. The birds had creatively found a way to protect themselves from predators during the cold nights of MN winters. The turkeys, that irritate me during the day, amazed me that night. The darkness revealed so much life in my familiar neighborhood.
At Christmastime, we often talk about light. As I went for evening walks, I felt so grateful for the dark. I wondered about Jesus’ experience in the shadows of Mary’s womb. How amazing that life begins in darkness. I thanked God for the beauty, depth, and grace of winter evenings.
Blessings to you as we enter the Christmas season. May the joy of the Christ child bring wonder, hope, and life this winter and always.