Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Slice of Life Tuesday: Holiday and Feathers

Yesterday was a holiday here in Haiti. November 1st and 2nd are All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, and both are important holidays. 


I don't know if you noticed, but there's a lot going on right now. In the US, and in Haiti. We are all preoccupied by what's in the news, and what's going on with our families, and what's supposed to happen today and in the weeks ahead. The news is bad everywhere.


But yesterday? Yesterday was a holiday. I woke up very early, which I do every day, and read for a while, including a chapter from the Bible. And then it started to get light, an hour earlier than it used to just a few days ago. I grabbed my binoculars and went outside at 5:30, before it was really light enough to see, and watched birds in my yard. Seven species on my eBird checklist, and Day 56 of my checklist streak. What a way to start the day!

I had breakfast with my husband, and I chatted on Zoom with a friend on another Caribbean island, and yeah, I worked (I am a teacher, after all). I ate some leftover pizza for lunch. I worked some more. I rode six miles on the exercise bike. We had talked about taking advantage of the long weekend to try to make some more complicated plans, find something fun to do, but there was just too much going on. Today we are going to a new setup at school, with twice as many students on campus. That's required a lot of preparation, plus Friday was the end of our first quarter, so there was grading, always and always the grading. 

But I did get to take a few minutes to work on my bird biology course (I wrote more about that here). The current chapter is about feathers. That may seem like a trivial or insubstantial topic, but believe me, it isn't. There's much more to feathers than meets the eye. As I read about the different kinds of feathers and how they are counted and how they grow and develop and how molting happens and how feathers are pigmented, I thought about the words of the twelfth century mystic Hildegard of Bingen, who called herself "a feather on the breath of God." 


All we have is the present moment, this day. Our concerns for the future, our regrets from the past, our worries over all the things: the election in the US and the stories of grisly crime in the Haitian news and the new demands at work - these are all beyond our control. We are feathers on the breath of God, buoyed up on His love and asked only to do our best and to trust Him for the outcome. 


And even for the feathers that we are, it's always good to have a day off, to rest and refocus so we can go back to work with some new energy. Here we go!


Erika Victor said...

I love the way you drew us into your day- the every day and the unexpected. You are not only a teacher but a learner too. Your bird watching sounds fun!

Carol Varsalona said...

"a feather on the breath of God." What a beautiful thought, Ruth. Thanks for weaving that wonderful thought into your post. This week a priest from Africa delivered a sermon for All Saints Day indicating that we all can be saints if live a life of kindness and care for others.

Tabatha said...


Denise Krebs said...

Oh, this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your sweet slice of life that taught me something about bird watching and gave me peace. I am a feather on the breath of God. What a lovely thought to take into today.