Much of the solitude time during my novitiate takes me to my bedroom window and the area right outside of it. I have never paid so much attention to birds or squirrels or deer, ever. When snow lingers on the ground, the birds go through an entire feeder worth of food in a day. Anytime we put out old apples, the deer (or maybe squirrels) have consumed them by the next morning. (I have also learned that these animals do not like oranges and pears as much as apples.) Another sister has even told me that she spotted a pregnant deer right here on the monastery grounds outside her window!

It is sort of interesting to me that these animals are what have drawn me in - I certainly couldn't have predicted it, but as I reflect on it I am realizing that they are showing me a different way of being. They aren't worried about all the things I consume myself with; they just are. They come and go and are. Here are some of the tracks they (and some humans) have been making as they move about.

It makes wonder: What kind of tracks am I making right now?

I think my tracks are bit different than usual, as should be the case during novitiate. I feel myself calming down a bit inside, becoming more peaceful where I am. This is certainly a fruit of this unique year in my life. Brother John Mark Falkenhain, OSB says:

"Monks aren't terribly different than other people. Monks are very ordinary people who do very ordinary things - but are constantly seeking God in the ordinary. That's what distinguishes us and makes us extraordinary - looking intentionally and intensely at the ordinary in our search for God."

I am hoping that this is what my new tracks are teaching me - the peace of seeking God in the ordinary. And, if my tracks aren't teaching me, certainly the animals' tracks are.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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