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The window of our guest room here in the Texas Hill Country looks out through tree cover of cedar and oak to the hills and blue sky. With the grey of morning I rise, curious and expectant as when I was a child who couldn’t wait to go and play. The world outside the window, with its magnetic birdsong and sunshine, pulls me.

Below the windowsill stand propped four books. They travelled with me, securely packed in our Honda CRV, over the long plains all the way from Canada. Like many, I believed that while on holiday, far from the responsibilities and distractions of home and work, I would want to read my books.

No one is pressuring me to pick up these volumes with bookmarks slivered between their pages. They were books I requested as Christmas presents, eagerly pre-ordered before release, or pounced upon at the second-hand store. I truly believed I would love each one. That book, recommended by a trusted friend, would inspire me to see fresh intersections between faith and art. This book would open new connections between understanding mental health and God’s healing grace. Through that book would come “a-ha” moments of self-discovery. In each case, what I began in energetic hope simply fizzled. Reading, like life, can be like that. It’s just not the right time for a particular message or challenge; for whatever reason, I clearly wasn’t ready. Will this be the day I open my books?

Instead, I strap on my sandals, pick up my binoculars, and step out the door into moist, gentle air. I disturb a gray fox who barks sternly at the intrusion. Red, blue, and green Painted Buntings flit through a seedy field, and the Golden-cheeked Warblers feed among green branches. Below is the river where the tiny Green Heron steps deliberately through muddy shallows, intent on minnows scattering before him. Along the dusty gravel road is the spot where the surprising glimpse of a shy Greater Roadrunner prompted laughing banter with friends about cartoon characters from our youth. My swimsuit hangs to dry, damp from yesterday’s exultant swim with new friends in the clear green water of the Blue Hole.

Today there will be beauty, friends, music, and food to inspire, to open new connections, and I will say “a-ha.” Perhaps, filled up with sunlight and wonder, buoyant from floating carefree on green water, I will recognize the grace and receive the energy I need to pick up a half-finished book, this half-finished life.

Darlene Pinter is a writer, spiritual director, and birder who lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. This reflection, written after a summer stint at the Lodge, originally appeared on her blog and has been reprinted here with permission. For more, darlenepinter.com.

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