George gave me one of “those” looks, waggled his eyebrows, and then said, “Whadda ya say, kid? Wanna go chase some geese?”
I hope you’re chuckling. I know I was. We were walking our dog along the bay, where flocks–or is it gaggles?–of geese like to hang out, much to the chagrin of the property owners. Geese leave lots of green-tinged messes behind them–large ones.
George took off at a run toward the geese, herding them toward the bay, their feathered butts wagging back and forth faster and faster as they went from a walk into what passes for a goose run. Finally they gave up and launched into flight, honking in irritated protest, their wings beating an audible tattoo on the air. They landed in the bay, ruffled their feathers, and waited for us to walk on, when of course they would promptly return to shore.
That’s OK. George didn’t expect their removal to be permanent. He just likes chasing geese. That burst into flight is always so fun to watch; it’s one of those simple, free pleasures that we don’t treasure nearly often enough.
Correction. I didn’t use to treasure them as much as I do now. Older and wiser, having come to this stage of my life through trials and tribulations, having made it through problems with kids, problems with money, personal problems, difficult jobs, I have learned to savor those moments that are free, unencumbered, without stress or price (or rather, priceless), gifts of the present moment.
Like chasing geese just for the sheer childlike delight of it. Or stumbling accidentally on the perfect spot from which to shoot a sunset. It might be settling myself into a chair on an afternoon when I have absolutely nothing scheduled, and picking up a good book to read uninterrupted. Long, lazy snuggles with George first thing upon waking in the morning, and last thing before sleep at night, when we laugh and talk and say silly things that kids think grownups never say. Almost daily, it’s those times in quiet prayer when the presence of God presses itself against my heart and mind and makes me well up with deep joy and gratitude at having been one of the lucky ones to be born.
The other day, George and I drove across the Michigan Street Bridge, a historic steel lift bridge with a beautifully designed overhead structure. On either side, the waters of Sturgeon Bay sparkled in the sunlight. On the left, the working tugs and the touring fire boat rested at their docks, while on the right, the tall masts of sailboats and the sleek lines of power boats jostled side by side in the marina. A beautiful sight that we didn’t have to spend one dime to enjoy, as are the bits of feathered color that visit my garden, the long V-formations of geese that circle our skies especially when fall approaches,
one perfect blue jay feather dropped along my path, the lightning show that performed all across the sky before us when we drove home from one of George’s concerts last night.
Simple things, there for the taking, daily gifts that shouldn’t be ignored, treasures more valuable than anything with a dollar sign. A lot of people don’t notice these things, or take time to enjoy them, because they’re too preoccupied, too busy–that four-letter word–or too worried about cares to pause even for a moment and just enjoy.
Moments like that truly are, I believe, life-giving. Necessary balm to harried spirits, precursers to the gratitude that engenders joy.
So, go ahead. Chase a few geese. The kid still buried in you will love it, and the adult will thrive.