“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” Henry David Thoreau
This week, go for a SpiritWalk in nature. Be aware of all the creatures that live around you. Go quietly and slowly, looking around you. Stand still for a few minutes. Birds and animals that shy away at people’s normal pace may come out when you go slow or even stand still. Few of us will be as privileged as Thoreau, but you might be surprised by some of your bird or animal neighbours. Blue jays, cardinals, voles, mice, squirrels, robins, chickadees, rabbits, raccoons, merlin hawks, bats, seagulls, ducks, snails, ants, and one fall, wild turkeys, lived in my old uptown neighbourhood in Waterloo. When I sat quietly in the backyard, there would be so much life going on around me. Birds flitting and chirping, rabbits tentatively hopping out in the early evening, unafraid if I sat still. I felt refreshed by the reminder that life goes on all around me.
If you feel like you aren’t noticing any creatures, take a good look down at the ground. You might see spiders, ants, beetles, and snails busy going about their lives.
As always with this spiritual practice, centre yourself before going on the walk.
Be still and take some deep breaths, let out any tension from the day, shake out your arms and legs, stretch your neck, and straighten your spine. When you feel quieter and calmer, take one last breath before you go.
When looking for the wildlife that lives in urban spaces, I suggest not taking a camera, at least the first time you try this SpiritWalk. If you want to remember the creature, take the time to tell yourself some of its details like colour, shape, sound. Careful observation will help you remember the details, and make it easier for you to identify the animal next time.