Laser Focused

Last month, before Winter Storm Landon was upon us, we slogged through days and days of rain.  One afternoon, I stepped out onto the deck to gauge the level of “sog” in the yard before letting the Sheps out.  There was no question the Sheps were coming out; I just needed to know how many towels I would need for the mud cleanup afterward.  Life with Sheps, what can you do?

After looking at the yard, I glanced over to see who might be visiting Iceman’s bird feeders.  They were strangely empty, the yard devoid of their cheeps and chatter. Eerily quiet.  I caught a glimpse of something odd on the ground below on of the feeders.  I leaned forward, squinting for a closer look, and I realized it was a bird.  A very large, very tall bird!  It was crystal clear why our little feathered friends were not at the feeders- they were afraid for their life!

I’m a believer in the best camera is the one you have with you, so I snapped his photo with my iPhone.  Alas, the iPhone was really no match for the distance.  I stood there frozen in a moment of indecision.  Part of me wanted to go get my camera, but my practical side told me he’d be long gone before I got back.

As my oldest son would say, I decided to “risk it for the biscuit”.  😊 As I understand it, that means something along the lines of “fortune favors the brave.”  I slipped back in the kitchen and the Sheps were like, “Can we go out NOW, Mom?!”  Imagine their surprise when instead of opening the door wider, I took off through the house!  Their surprise did not last long.  Nothing pleases a Shep like the promise of an adventure and they easily caught up with me.  We ran “three wide” through the house, up the steps to retrieve my camera.  Then we ran three wide back down the steps, through the house to the backdoor. Their level of excitement was palpable! They were crushed when I told them to wait, and I slipped out by myself.  There was no way I’d capture Mr. Big New Bird if the Sheps chased him from the yard.

I released the lens cap, checked my settings, then looked up expecting him to be gone, but he had simply moved from the yard to perch himself on the back fence. 

When I try to capture a photo of something that is likely to fly or run off at any moment, I take the photo I can get from where I am, then move closer and take another.  Repeat.  I snapped the first photo on the deck, then moved a few steps closer, snapped another, a few steps closer through the yard, snapped another, a few steps more.  I was under no illusion that I was sneaking up on the bird, though I am sure that is what it looked like I was trying to do.

He was watching me, but he was not afraid of me.  He radiated watchfulness, confidence, and quiet control.  He watched me approach, then would scan the yard, look behind him, then his yellow eyes would snap back to me.  Laser focused. Repeat.  He allowed me to approach much closer than I expected.  He granted me several moments of pure joy before he hopped to the ground and disappeared behind the barn.

As I watched the hawk through the lens, the lessons I saw were to stay calm, be quietly watchful, and keep your eyes focused on what is important.  For each of us, what is important is different and can even change as we move through the seasons of our lives, and even into the unknown of 2022 after a lifechanging 2020 and 2021.

For me, in yet another year of “not having been this way before”, I will remind myself to stay calm, be quietly watchful, and keep my eyes focused on that is important, on what I know to be true, on the things that give me grace and joy and peace- God, family, friends, community, photography.  For me, these thing help frame the unknown into something more familiar.  They shine light and joy into my life, and I am thankful.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

“After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow itThen you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”

Joshua 3:2-4a (NIV), emphasis mine

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