Now that I spend so much of my time at the computer, I'm in danger of missing the gifts that arrive on my doorstep almost every day. Yesterday, I was rewarded for stepping away from the busyness of my life.
Nursing a cup of coffee and staring dreamily out the kitchen window - my computer snoring softly in the next room - I became aware of clucking in the distance.
A group of wild turkeys were strolling through my neighbour's backyard. I watched in fascination as the females kept their heads down and concentrated on finding tidbits in the grass. The males formed a phalanx of protective armour behind them, keeping an eye out for marauding predators, while at the same time ensuring that the females didn't lose their way.
I quickly laid my coffee cup down and took up the binoculars. The head tom fanned his tail, from time to time, a casual flexing of his muscles that kept the younger jakes in line. Never once did the males let down their guard, and never once did the females feel the need to cast a furtive glance towards the forest.
They continued on their leisurely walk, the females pecking at the ground, and the males on high alert. It all looked....well, so effortless. I could almost imagine the females mincing across the yard, parasols held aloft, their long, flowing dresses brushing against the tall grass...the males with walking sticks, jingling coins in their pockets, and gallantly throwing down their cloaks over puddles.
I wondered what it would be like to have such a presence in my life. To move through my day, a squandron of angels in my corner. To be honest, as a modern woman, I'm not entirely comfortable with that image.
But I am comfortable with the urge to protect: doesn't every mother feel it, even when her children have outgrown the need for her protective arms around them?
This leads me to another question: is it an imperative to extend this primal urge to the larger community?
As the birds disappeared round the corner of our house, I felt a new resolution stirring within me. Are you your brother's keeper? whispered in my ear. I had a choice. I could put down my binoculars, and join hands with others. Or, instead, in this day of voyeurism taken to new heights, I could choose to read about others through news blogs, sighing over those who are largely ignored in our society. Wishing I could do more, but reassured by the knowledge that I'm only one woman.
Don't get me wrong. I have done my fair share of merely observing the plight of others. But maybe it's time to flex my own muscles, remind myself that I am not an island. I may be only one woman, but there are others who are willing to join hands with me, creating a safety net for those in need of one.
And in so doing, by willing to step away from the distractions in my world, I can open my heart to the gifts that are right there in front of me. For, as L'Arche reminds us in their video, What Makes a Community?, when we are supportive of one another, we all benefit from the gifts present in each one of us.