Monday, December 14, 2009

A Walk in the Park -
An occasional series

Ice Lessons

This week taking a walk in the park is freezing, literally. Early morning temperatures are in the teens and the ‘highs’ for the day are in the 20’s.

As I walk by the lake every morning, I see a new layer of ice. The ducks are crowded into smaller and smaller ponds where the ice isn’t frozen until finally, the top of the lake is completely covered in ice. While the ducks huddle as best they can, the heron stands in solitary splendor on the ice.

When I usually spot the blue heron, I find her camouflaged by tall grasses beside the lake or perched on a grey branch near the shoreline waiting to catch the fish swimming by. This week is different. The heron stands on the ice in the middle of the lake waiting and watching. I wonder, why would she even bother? She can’t catch the fish through the ice.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here on the ice for me.

When I look out onto the icy lake, I see a barrier, like a solid floor, closed door or glass wall. I see what’s on top, the ice. I don’t see what’s underneath hidden from my view.

But maybe the heron does. And that’s why she’s standing in the middle of the lake on the ice. She sees what’s underneath the ice. She sees fish, food, possibilities and life.

Suddenly, I see it too.

I see that although the top layer of the lake is frozen. Nothing is moving. Nothing is growing. The trees are bare and appear lifeless. That’s just the surface. Below the fish are swimming. The algae are growing. The trees are very much alive even without their leaves.

At this time of year, when the sun comes out only briefly and darkness covers more of our days, it’s easy to get stuck in an icy frame of mind. Feeling cold, gray and seeing the world around me as frozen and unmoving.

But the heron showed me that below the icy, grey surface, the world is teaming with life. The world is moving and thriving. Just because I don’t see it or hear it, doesn’t mean that the things aren’t happening all around me. Things that, like the heron knows, take time to come to the surface.

What do I do in the meantime? Take my cue from the heron, walk out into the world, then wait and be ready to catch those fish when the ice melts.

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