When I am feeling down in the dumps, one of the things that brings me great peace and calm is photography. I picked up this hobby after my mother died four years ago. Hospice of the Panhandle offered a course called Grief Through the Lens of Love. This class was just what I needed to process my grief and move forward in that ongoing journey.

I am not very good photographer, just lucky. I have read a few books on the subject, but for me it is not about the end result, it is about the process. I enjoy the quiet solitude of looking, observing, and waiting–the meditative watchfulness.

This morning I was sitting on my back porch looking at the birds, when a beautiful American Goldfinch landed on one of my 15 sunflowers. I was so excited, I moved too quickly and scared him away, much to my dismay. Not a minute later a dainty hummingbird paid a visit to the same sunflower. I missed that shot too.

I did, however, get some delightful close ups of several bees pollinating my sunflowers. I was completely fascinated and enthralled with one bee in particular as he slowly and meticulously crawled around the disc florets. My patience paid off when I actually got a picture of one bee in flight—it was so cool!

Later my attention was drawn to the sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds gathered in the birdbath. I took a bunch of snap shots of them bathing—it was hilarious. Those images do not look like much, but I thoroughly enjoyed viewing them bathe and found myself giggling out loud at their antics.

These are difficult times in which we are living and maybe it is okay, if not absolutely necessary, for us to slow down and take pleasure in God’s creation in order to restore our heart and soul.

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. Her book Devotions sits on my desk with many pages dog-eared and verses underlined which have deeply touched my inner being. I conclude this post with her poem entitled “Invitation.”

Oh do you have time
      to linger
          for just a little while
               out of your busy

and very important day
      for the goldfinches
          that have gathered
                in the field of thistles

for a musical battle,
      to see who can sing
           the highest note,
                or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
      or the most tender?
           Their strong, blunt beaks
                drink the air

as they strive
           not for your sake
                and not for mine

and nor for the sake of winning
      but for sheer delight and gratitude—
           believe us, they say,
                it is a serious thing

. . .

just to be alive
      on this fresh morning
           in this broken world.
                I beg of you,

do not walk by
      without pausing
           to attend to this
                rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
      It could mean everything.
           It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.