Filled with Awe


It is rare when another human leaves me in awe, not so with the rest of nature.

Two years ago, outside of our bedroom window, we watched a small miracle take place. A female mourning dove we named Patience laid two small eggs in a window flower box. During the next few weeks, we watched as she patiently sat waiting for her young ones to hatch. Sure enough, two tiny little beings came into this world (Polly and Peter), grew day by day and soon flew away into their new lives. Three weeks ago, this event repeated itself. This time, the mother was Patsy. She sat day and night on her two eggs. She must have moved some, but we never witnessed it. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Pickles and Pepper popped out of their shells, and momma Patsy sat stoic as a mountain, watching over her two little balls of feathers. This morning I went outside to greet them, and they had all moved out of the neighborhood. And yes, my heart sank when I realized that they too had now moved on in their bird lives.

I went for my walk at the Maeveen Behan Desert Sanctuary later this morning. A small cottontail rabbit was on duty at the gate as a morning greeter. He nodded at me and happily hopped away. Later, I saw his buddy romping around the park, making sure everyone was having a good time. Shortly thereafter, two Gambel’s quail crossed my path. Their self-important squawk suggesting both being in a hurry to get to a morning birthday party. I have long known they are silly birds, but decided this morning that their sole purpose in life must be to make people laugh.

It is not yet May, but every plant in the desert seems to have come alive. The Saguaros have already laid claim to the high ground of beauty. Their waxy white blossoms are popping out everywhere. Not to be outdone, the Palo Verde has left a soft carpet of yellow on the ground, while Arizona poppies, and Desert Mallow have been competing for weeks to see who could be the most glorious. I had to stop on my walk, rub the leaves of a Creosote bush and breathe in so I could remember what the desert rain smells like. Stop and notice. Stop and notice, I kept saying to myself. And I did.

The most amazing thing that happens when I pay attention to the desert is the calm I feel. Some time between step one and step five hundred, my worry, stress, and garbage thinking fall away, and I feel serene. I feel peace; I feel AWE. The adult Saguaros stand fifty feet high, and some are estimated to be two hundred years old. If that does not impress and leave a sense of awe, then nothing can. If you are quiet, you can hear the whispering of those people and cacti who have lived on this land for millennia. Listen, their words are words of wisdom.

I have wonderful human friends. They are bright, kind, talented and loving people. Still, I return to my opening line; it is rare that I am in awe of another person. And I am fine with that. I know I will be ok as long as I can walk back into the desert, say hi to the rabbits, laugh at the quail, smell the creosote, or glimpse an occasional coyote as it makes its early morning rounds. And yes, I am already waiting for next Spring to see the newest mother dove show me what wonder there is to behold.

In my life, nature heals like no other magic potion.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

Gary Snyder

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Rainer Maria Rilke

One thought on “Filled with Awe

  1. Beautiful reminder to see,experience, and take in the bounty of nature. Thank you David for this lovely piece.


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