When the poet David says that God leads him by still waters and restores his soul (psalm 23) he is hinting at a practice of slowing down that benefits us all. The poet, it seems to me, knows first hand what good it can do us to sit by still water and take nature in. This is getting popular these days with practices like nature healing and forest bathing. What is old is new again, I suppose. When is the last time you permitted yourself to slow down? I don’t mean Netflix on the couch but quiet and slow and contemplative.

In Ottawa these days there are three little stars. Many go right by them without noticing them or the crowds watching them. Others, see the crowd, get interested and slow down to figure out what everyone else is looking at. Many return to the show day after day, if only for five minutes on their commute. They are taking the time to sit by still waters, I’d speculate that it restores their souls. The stars are a mother owl and her two owlets. The little birds have lighter coloured feathers and cannot yet fly so they are stuck in trees. Mom goes and hunts to provide the food they need as they wait for the big day when they fly (and we will not longer be so able to marvel at them). Even though they are literally stuck in trees, to see the owls one must slow down. Slow down enough to notice, and then be willing to stop altogether to appreciate what is happening. 

Another scene happening in Ottawa these days is the annual tulip festival. Fields of tulips are growing and showing off their splendour for all to see. It is a festival about the unity of two countries helping each other out, and it is a spring festival that marks the start of summer and the bounce back of the land after its cold rest. Not everyone takes the time to stop and smell the flowers, but some do. This too lifts the soul and in these tricky to navigate days every soul can use a boost.

I suspect, religious or not, the folks who are taking the time to experience what our city is offering at the moment, are feeling a bit of desperately needed soul satisfaction. They are getting a glimpse of the emotions and wellbeing that await us in the future when we spend our days with God. We are blessed to live somewhere safe and beautiful. May we stop and smell the roses, or sit by still waters, and may the Holy Spirit give us a glimpse of heaven as we do so. 

The man with two hats is a statue by Dows Lake, it has a twin in Holland, reminding us of unity and peace in troubled times.

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