The Miracle on Spindly Legs

 Great Blue Heron in Winter

Happy Holidays, my friends!

I chose this photo to share as my little holiday gift to you because, for me, it has always been a reminder that life is filled with small miracles. I can look at it and remember how sharply cold it was that night. I was bundled in layers of high-tech gear and still shivering – my lips and fingers were stiff and the camera had to be held under my jacket next to my body between shots or the batteries would fail. My toes hurt, in spite of several layers of thermal socks and warm boots. It seemed a very long time ago that the boats in the background, those icons of summer fun, were pulling kids in tubes alongside this very dock.

There was the great blue heron, probably the same one I had photographed in this spot last summer, wading in the frigid water on his spindly bird legs with no protection at all from the cold. There was no shivering and no sign that he wasn’t perfectly comfortable. He took a slow, careful step, barely rippling the surface, then stood perfectly still, waiting for a sign of dinner, and then took another. It was an incomprehensible miracle to me – I would die of hypothermia if I tried that.

My favorite quote from Albert Einstein is this:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Every day, every minute, there are millions of small miracles happening in each of our lives. A key to happiness is to notice them. A secret to joy is to appreciate them. Whatever else is happening in our lives that we may feel is “good” or “not so good” or “downright awful,” there are also tiny miracles present to be noticed and appreciated.

If we make lists of them, your list and mine will differ and each will be different from moment to moment.

Right now I am aware of…

…this breath, this heartbeat, the countless miracles that keep this body functioning without me even knowing they are taking place

…the brilliant red cardinal I can see out my window against a steel-gray sky which a few hours ago was a breathtaking azure

…the spinning of the earth and the changing of seasons and the unfathomable orchestration of it all

…that my fingers can strike keys and words are created that your eyes will see, your brain will interpret and, perhaps, your heart will feel

…that Louie, my sweet, warm, fat cat has come to sit in my lap as I type and how effortlessly our love for each other is communicated

…that the list of such miracles is ever-changing and never-ending

Try it yourself – pause, notice and appreciate. I can promise that you will be glad you did.

May your holidays and the coming year be filled with what matters…

Happiness that comes not from having, but simply from being in a world of miracles.

Love,   Gayle

About Gayle Harper

Travel Photographer and Writer
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12 Responses to The Miracle on Spindly Legs

  1. Gayle,

    Thank you.

    This is the most beautiful expression of gratitude and awareness. Your writing touches my heart every time.

    Thank you.

  2. Valeria says:

    I may never write so eloquent ly, but my heart feels the beauty of your words. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. Annie B says:

    Lovely. One of my favorite birds…for their silence and careful step and beauty. Beautiful photo. I shared your photo and thoughts with my mostly distant family. Thank you. May this time be filled with grace for you.

  4. Mike Jungers says:

    In this moment, I am filled with gratitude that I share my life with you.

  5. Kay Myers says:

    Beautiful and soothing and a wonderful reminder to “notice” all the miracles around us. Thanks for sharing and always inspiring. Kay

  6. Mz Vic says:

    Gayle, I so needed this little story to read this evening. Three out of four nights this week I have come home and fell into Harold’s arms in tears. First off, we are going through a software conversion at the office, children were making last minute changes in our travel plans over the holidays, our roof was leaking, and I had a very dear friend who went in for emergency brain surgery yesterday. Not to mention the stress of buying AND wrapping for 12 grandchildren, 6 kids, 5 spouses, my husband, my mother and several friends. I simply had a major meltdown on Monday & have tried to keep focused for the rest of the week. After reading this I simply stopped and said a little prayer thanking God for how fortunate I am to have my health, my friends & family. I am truly surrounded by miracles each & every day that tend to go by unnoticed. And II do realize you are one of my blessings. Here’s to hoping you & your family have a wonderful Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year. We’re looking forward to the completion of your book.
    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
    Harold & Vickey

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