‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight. Simple Gifts, Traditional Shaker Hymn by Joseph Brackett
If I hadn’t been walking; if I’d hadn’t been walking to church earlier than usual for a meeting; if I had set a different meeting time; if there had been a noisy car passing. But I was walking past Ye Olde Tavern on November 13th at 8:33am, with no cars in sight. For whatever reason, the universe conspired to have me where and when I was that Sunday. When I heard a dull knock on a tree, I looked up.
[Birds of New Hampshire & Vermont, by Stan Tekiela; Cambridge, Minnesota: Adventure Publications, 2016, p. 69
In my whole life, I’ve spotted half a dozen of these startlingly large and beautiful woodpeckers – most of the sightings while hiking on wooded mountain trails. Yet, on a typical morning’s walk, in downtown Manchester Center, in the valley between the Green and Taconic mountain ranges, one appears right above my head.
After a few seconds, with a flash of feathers, this amazing moment passed – being in the right place at the right time is no guarantee of an extended visitation. But the moment was long enough for me to see where I was for what it was: a valley of love and delight.
I suspect that if I paid attention, every day would hold a right place/right time experience. Where and when else would such experiences be?