Cracks in the Pavement

December in Manitoba can be a cold, dark month. Winter threatens to take hold of the land with each northern gust of wind. Sunlight is in short supply during these shortest days of the year. The combination of darkness and cold have a way of working themselves into your bones as everyone settles in for another (potentially long) winter.

I was definitely having a case of the “winter blues” last week, feeling the effects of the weather and the pre-Christmas busyness, just slogging through to-do lists while trying to stay warm while getting from place to place.

Then Friday evening, something shifted, almost instantly. When I got home, my kids were playing in the snow when we spontaneously decided to hit up the sledding hill. For some reason this change of pace changed me.

I started to see again.

I noticed the glowing-pink sunset on the horizon being overtaken with dark clouds. I noticed the soft sparkling snow. My spirits were lifted by my kids’ laughter as they rocketed down the hill, shouting “again! again!” once they reached the bottom.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
– Mary Oliver

Life likes to take a toll, doesn’t it? No matter how good we have it, days and weeks can turn into either anxiety-driven races, or monotonous routines. While trying to get into a “groove” we end up stuck in a rut. Our gaze turns downward as we slowly forget to notice the signs of life all around us.

Yet it’s these cracks in the pavement, the unforeseen (to quote Wendell Berry), that remind us to pay attention again. To notice. To breathe. Something as simple as a chickadee’s song or friend’s conversation can remind us of the story we’re part of.

What have you noticed lately?

I’ve started a publication on Medium to collect stories and reflections about the things I find in the cracks of the pavement. By noticing and sharing the things we notice, we can encourage each other. Together we can learn how to see again, to be attentive, and be astonished.

Follow the publication for more stories and reflections. If you have a story you’d like to share, please let me know!

Photo by Dan Thibodeaux via Flickr.