I spent a quite day alone in the woods and was treated to the sight and sounds of owls. I sat on the deck and heard a "hooting" and soon realized that there was a response from another bird. It wasn't a hoot but it was definitely an answer back. I left my comfy deck chair to investigate. I walked stealth like, or so I thought, into the treed area and looked up. There staring down at me was a barred owl, dark eyes, brown and white feathers. I had thought I was alone but it seems that I had been under observation for some time. From there I was able to see two more owls. One flew over my head and landed in a nearby tree carrying a mouse in its beak.
It was a magical sight. I had never seen owls that close in the wild. The funny thing was that although I thought I was observing them they were in fact observing me. Recognizing that I was neither prey nor predator they tolerated my presence without much fuss. I was humbled and recognized the power of being in the moment.
This experience was so incredible it had the power to dissolve the chatter that had followed me to the woods. As a result my tender heart filled with warmth and wonder at my good fortune. The barriers between me and the owls dissolved as soon as I realized that I wasn't the only one watching, they in fact were also watching me. We get so caught up in ourselves that we forget that when we look at nature it looks back at us.
Of course it isn't just nature that we forget is watching. It is all the other people we encounter during the course of our day. We forget that our children, neighbours, shop clerks, colleagues and countless others who we don't know are also looking back at us. When we get all caught up in ourselves we forget to smile or offer words of comfort or kindness to those we rush past.
When we do this our tender heart is not open to receiving the touch of warmth or beauty that is likely present, like the owls were that day. It wasn't until I slowed down and really listened, dissolved the barriers between myself and the world around me, that I was able to experience the wonder of what the world had to offer. I am so grateful that I did.
As an experiment in dissolving barriers try to take a moment during your day to smile at everyone you encounter. Sounds odd but you would be surprised at what you receive in return. You never know when you are going to see an owl.