Earlier, I shared how we met three river otters on the Big River, Mendocino during vacation.
But river otters were not the only creatures, our family observed.
After we rowed about a half hour, we heard loud prehistoric groaning or a cackling sound reverberate and break the silence of a quiet morning. It's hard to describe the sound as we'd never heard it before, resounding from a large grove of trees on the other side of the riverbank.
The eerie cries pierced our ears and haunted our thoughts.
Photo via CC/Flickr User: Nature Shutterbug
After we watched the river otters swim, play and preen, we paddled our canoe around to return.
A mile or two later, we noticed a white clump standing on a fallen tree in the river. As we paddled closer, it looked like a white feathery egg resting on its side, perched on a thin dark stick.
What was it? Where was its head, if it was alive? It didn't move.
When we were about 15 feet way, I noted: "It has white feathers with a black sash."
Suddenly, like a Transformer, the oval grew bigger and bigger until it unfurled to reveal a head with a beak, two thin legs and two giant wings, which flapped. The lone bird flew to the top of a tree further down the river and away from our prying eyes.
My heart sang at this unexpected glimpse of its beauty and majesty: Thank you, God.
Later we learned the unearthly sound came from Great Blue Herons nesting. And when we studied a bird book, we learned the whitish-gray bird that flew away was also a Great Blue Heron. The feathers on the inside of its wing was a grayish pale blue.
Hearing then seeing a Great Blue Heron was a surprise grace gift.
We would never have seen it if we hadn't done something new: rent a canoe and paddle for three hours along the Big River.
When we try something good and new, we open ourselves to potentially receive an unexpected gift.
In retrospect, I realize I have received many unexpected grace gifts, when I risked and did something new, like blog, three years ago. I've made new friends and my life is richer because of those friendships.
I'm learning to be open to those gentle nudges to try new things or to visit new places.
It may not be all sunshine and river otters, but God in His goodness always gives His children good gifts, even the ones disguised as trials.
Through blogging, I met women (such as Mia and Shelly), who battle chronic illness and cling to God in the midst of it. They unwrap the gifts of a closer relationship with God as they share their faith through their respective blogs.
Or I think of how Michelle DeRusha decided to be open to God's existence and came to faith, as told in her memoir, Spiritual Misfit.
Soul Stops Moment:
What do you think about being open to trying something new(*) as a way to being available to receive an unexpected gift?
What unexpected gift(s) have you received?
Thanks for being here.
(*)I'm assuming it is not only new but also something good and wholesome.
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Also linking with gracious Kelli of Unforced Rythms and Laura Boggess of Playdates with God.
I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.