Changing Time Zones

Well, it has been a long time since I have written on this blog.  There were confirmations, baptism, graduations.  I attended a synod assembly to elect a bishop and before that there were preparations to get ready for the assembly.  I went on a two week vacation, but only after first tying up all the loose ends in order to get away for vacation.  Frankly, I had just plum run out of the creative energy it takes to write.  I could barely come up with the creativity for preparing sermons in the weeks preceding my departure. (I know, that begs the question of preaching being open to God’s inspiration, not our doing.)  But at any rate, blogging had to take a rest.  Like me.

So one of the things I relish about camping vacations is the chance to be more attentive to the outdoors, to allow my activities to be molded, not by my agendas or others’ agendas, but by the rhythms of daylight and night, sun and showers, heat and chill, wild wind and dead calm.  Here’s an example.  At the faintest hint of dawn, usually about 4:40 a.m., the eastern pewee slowly began his song and by 5:00 a.m. would be belting out a persistent “pee-ah-wee” joined by a variety of calls and songs from other birds stirred up by its noise.  It wasn’t just birds either. The dogs would jump on our bed to see if we too were awake like all the other creatures in the woods.  And so over the 12 camping days our bodies began to respond and awaken on “woods” time.  

The outdoor rhythm of rain happens regardless of my vacation plans.  Although it helps to have comfortable rain gear, hiking in a soft rain can be just as stunning as on a clear day.  While in bright sunlight tree leaves reflect back the glare with a white sheen, in the dampness of rain those same leaves suck in and hold onto the most vivid shades of green they possibly can.  Mist curls around the mountains, and the river is swollen with energy. 

Back in the trailer as a thunder shower beats on the aluminum roof, the forcefulness or the lightness of the rain has a number of differing types of sounds that I rarely notice while sitting in a house.  Meanwhile, gusts of wind send twigs flying and branches snapping, and I am alert to what’s going, especially with the tornado warnings.  After all, my camping roof is less than substantial and there are a number of substantial trees within falling distance.  The rhythm of the outdoors is not always safe.

There is a rhythm of mystery and surprise in the outdoors.  On several occasions we hiked or biked to locations where we thought we might find a night heron to photograph.  So we went here and there, including the spot where we had seen one last year.  But the mysterious night heron remained elusive.  Meanwhile we were surprised by noticing other things:  tracking a strange (to us) bird call and finding a prothonotary warbler eating a dragonfly, an indigo bunting flying from tree to tree over the bike trail, two snakes sunning on some roots, a mockingbird doing a strange wing display that, when we checked things out on the web, even ornithologists can give no definitive reason for.  The rhythm of the outdoors is to receive with gratitude what one does see and accept what one doesn’t…at least for that day.

The rhythm of night is honored differently in the woods where we camped.  At dusk the creatures  become quiet and often the air becomes still as well.  We might have a campfire going, but it doesn’t last long before my body heads for bed too.  After all, haven’t I been awake since 4:40 a.m.?  And so darkness means sleep time instead of another meeting or another job to do or a blog post to write 🙂

Now I am back home and, a bit wistfully, am no longer moving on outdoor time. (Thus I am still writing this several hours after night has fallen.)  To remind myself of the outdoor time I just left, one of the first things I did when we arrived home was restock the empty birdfeeders—only to find out that the birds had returned to their own rhythm of finding food in the wild outdoors and have been slow to return.  Each day a few more are back.  I finally saw a woodpecker today. 

But what an irony!  I feed the birds out of the pleasure of watching them.  They are reminders to me in my daily working world to pay attention to creation and its rhythms.  But in drawing these feathered creatures to the feeders, I have actually been pulling them from their natural outdoor rhythms.  Ironic, yes.  But am I going to change?  Heck, no.  They are well fed and raising healthy families.  And I, watching them, am a calmer and more grateful person in my Eastern Daylight Time.

And in addition, I am writing on the blog again.


  1. Terrific post, Elaine. I resonate with the swing of rhythms, rest, tasks, etc… good to see you writing again!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Holly. Writing is a good discipline to be practicing again.