On the Eve
came the Christmas promise:
“Love.
Peace.
Let it Come.”

We have entered the Christmas season:
twelve days of receiving…

On the eleventh day of Christmas
I received
affirmation
and reminder.
A friend sent a New York Times article:

“Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

A series of tests in recent years has shown, Mr. Nicholas Carr points out {in his eye-opening book The Shallows,} that after spending time in quiet rural settings, subjects “exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition. Their brains become both calmer and sharper.” More than that, empathy, as well as deep thought, depends (as neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio have found) on neural processes that are “inherently slow.” The very ones our high-speed lives have little time for.

The article was written by Pico Iyer,
an author (The Man Within my Head)
who goes on short retreats
several times a year.

It has been such a lovely Christmas season—
peaceful,
loving.
But as the culture has moved
back into rush mode,
I seemed to have moved into it as well.
Even before the end of the Christmas season,
I was feeling the pressure
of surging deadlines
on a pile of projects.
And then this article arrived
to remind me
what I believe and know to be true.
It was stunning
how quickly I forgot
something so foundational to my beliefs,
so core to my living,
(out here in the country!)
so basic to my purpose
here at Turtle Rock Farm.

Sobered,
and a bit shaken,
I went out to feed the animals.
Now that the chickens are in for winter,
I opened the door
so that the Guinea Fowl
could have run of the entire barn,
with the chickens.
I stood and just watched—
let go all the deadlines,
all the projects,
all the pressure—
and enjoyed the Guineas.
They seemed dizzy with excitement,
squawking and running
into the chickens’ side of the barn;
flying onto the hay bales
surrounding the rabbit village.
It was sheer joy to watch them
and the chickens,
who stood watching the Guineas as well.
Rabbits had retreated
into their burrows.
Rooster took after one Guinea
that got too close to the huddle of hens.
I noticed for the first time—
how is that possible?—
that some of the Guineas
have a fancy collar of feathers around their necks.
How had I missed that
before?
Because I was always busy doing—
feeding, watering;
doing.

Guinea with Fancy Feathers for a Collar

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas
I received
a reminder
to stop.
And then I received peace,
the opening
to love.