August 28, 2006

camping, my daughter and listening

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Paige and I went camping this last weekend. It was fantastic just to have some time with her. She is such an amazing little person. Although, our trip into the wilderness, or more accurately 'state park', was short we had a great time hiking, skipping stones in the creek, taking bike rides, making smores and Paige even built a village for ants.

Our trip has also made me begin to wonder if interspecies communication exists.

Saturday afternoon, Paige and I walked down a long trail. It brought us to a paved road that had clearly been abandoned. We see brush pushing through the asphalt and I think of them saying, "We were here first, we're taking it back!". I tell this to Paige. She agrees.

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A bird hops from shrub to shrub chirping as it goes, staying about ten yards ahead of us. Paige says the bird is telling us where to go. I say, "Ah, it's the leading our way. Huh?" She says the plants are too... Hmm.

We get about ten yards from where the old road ends and the bird flys away. Paige turns to it and hollers, "Thank you!" As we get closer to the end of the road she motions a 180 degree turn as the last instructions given by the bird.

I think to myself that this isn't the direction we'll be headed.

Paige then almost leaps out of my arms, yelling, "Oh, look, Daddy! This is so beautiful. This beautiful flower is what that bird wanted us to see!" I bend down to look. It's not really a flower. But it has a floral shape. It's thick, velvet-like "fur" is soft. I pluck a stem. It isn't soft anymore. That fur is now sticking into my fingers.

I stand in awe, reflecting on the last twenty minutes. That's it? Yes, that's it.

We turn around-a 180 degree tun-and start back the way we came. Five minutes later a bird lands on a tree, then to a shrub near us, chirps and takes flight.

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"She says, 'Thank you.'," Paige tells me.
"Why?" I ask. "Shouldn't we be the one's saying thanks?"
I pause and then continue, "Afterall, you said the bird showed the way."
"No, Dad." Paige replies, "Just 'Thanks for listening'."

I stop and look at Paige and then the shrub the bird had been sitting on. Paige looks up at me. I turn around, towards the path we are leaving behind.

"You're welcome," I yell.

This isn't the only story of Paige having some kind of insight with animals. I could tell you the about the time she commanded a dog to move out of the way before I hit it with no time to stop... and that she was asleep in the back seat when she did it. I could tell you about the time she knew there was a dead bird on the side of the road before she even saw it. My mom says my brother did the same thing as a kid. Josh says that kids see and hear things before they get tainted by this world. He believes it's why Jesus kept telling us to be child-like in order to get the Kingdom.

Maybe Saint Francis was on to something. Maybe the clean air just got to me. Scripture does talk about inanimate objects, like rocks, and plant life crying out to God if we don't do our job of it. And animals communicated to humans more than once in Scripture... Maybe I've been reading too much of Derrick Jensen's stuff lately. Maybe I'm going crazy. But either way, I'm trying to listen better.

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