They trekked along the river bed, sludging their way through muddy ruts and clambering up slopes of stone. Bare scrub brush caught at their legs and high over head the geese honked. Every now and again the sun would sneak a golden stream of light through the fog and the world would become dazzling in its damp glory.
As she walked, the gal thought to the wholeness of certain practices in her life. She began to breathe mindfully; on every exhale she took a tiny piece of that gray matter and sent it into the light. On every inhale, she pulled in the pureness, the goodness, the holiness of the creation around her. It became a dialogue between breath and earth, between heart and sky. And somewhere between the rapids and the grassy knolls, that little ball of frustration disappeared entirely. The dialogue shifted; rather than exhaling bits of darkness she exhaled thanks. Expansive, deep exhalations of gratitude. And the sunlight rained down like gold.
And then, almost as if an unseen hand directed her gaze, she craned her neck and gazed upward into a tree she had passed more than a dozen times before. There, about eight feet up, cozied into the crook of a dry branch was the most perfect nest she had ever seen. The inside was lined with crushed down and the occasional white horse hair. The exterior was built of grasses and mud. The whole thing was smaller than the palm of her hand. The inhabitants were long gone, fully feathered and grown. She knew it was for her, gently snapped the branch and smiled, because this was no ordinary finding. This was a gift.
* * *