I'm walking down the sidewalk in the freezing, dreary, and muddy slosh of an April snow.
It's quiet and bleak.
Then, I hear a group of little children above me shrieking with laughter. But it's not little children--it can't be. I turn circles and look up into the trees as I follow the strange sounds.
Then, I see them--bright and vibrant, loud and swift--flying loops around the trees. Set against the white snow, that bright red head makes me pause with wonder. They can't hide on such a stark day. One of them lands. I don't have my camera, but I find this picture of what I saw: Pileated woodpeckers darting and then landing right in front of me. Their cheerful calls sound like giggling children.
The funny thing about quiet, bleak days is that everything else, by contrast, is that much more vibrant. I stand and watch them for what seems like hours. Those woodpeckers persist in hammering against that hard surface until they find the sustenance they need.
I remember the own hard places of my circumstances. I think about hammering against them, gripping tightly, until I find the good and beautiful thing that nourishes my soul for the day.
I love observing these woodpeckers. And I know it required a snowstorm and a stark April day to allow it.
(first photo courtesy of Noel Lee, second photo courtesy of Rwdanielsnhncm, Creative Commons)
Journal: What hard circumstance might I hammer down into to find beauty?