Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Hiding in Plain Sight

2 Comments


DSC_3583My first photo here, on the left, might seem to be just a bunch of rocks—and while this blog is probably not the best for viewing these photos, if you look carefully, you might be able to spot some or all of the 11 baby Gambel’s quail hidden in among those rocks! The image on the right gives you a clearer view of the babies.DSC_3567

Until I lived here, I didn’t realize that quail could raise more than one brood each year. These babies seem so tiny for July, especially since we’ve seen other, older baby quail earlier in the season. It turns out that, in more abundant years, quail will have additional broods—and I’m guessing that our bird feeders have created a small haven of abundance in the midst of this ongoing drought, giving the quail enough food on which to raise additional chicks.

As I was snapping pictures, I found myself thinking about how much of our wildlife here hides in plain sight. Lizards and horned toads sun themselves on our rocks, and I often don’t see them until they decide to move. Rabbits will often surprise me when I’m out watering, scurrying away through the grass because they think I’ve seen them—when in fact I didn’t notice them until they moved. All of these creatures are prey for animals quite larger than they—and many of those predators also excel at hiding in plain sight.

Stillness is a major component of being able to hide in plain sight, and it’s something at which we humans do not excel. In fact, we’ve become so accustomed to being “rulers of all we survey” that we blithely stroll, and often speed, through our environment without any regard for the other creatures with whom we share this space. The quail are particularly quick to catch our movements with their peripheral vision, scurrying away even when we move around inside the house.

To me, this means I must also remain still in order to see. Sometimes I enjoy sitting on the back porch, especially after we’ve enjoyed breakfast or dinner on our patio, and just being still, watching to see what catches my attention. We’ve spotted a bobcat and hawks from our backyard place of stillness, as well as numerous smaller creatures.

Does stillness have a place in your own life? Have you ever noticed some amazing element of God’s creation hiding in plain sight? What might the stillness of our fellow creatures—both predators and prey—have to teach us about our life, and our life in God?

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2 thoughts on “Hiding in Plain Sight

  1. It seems to me that when I hold still what I first notice is all the movement around me (the chickadees at the feeder, a chipmunk cleaning up beneath it, my cat’s tail swishing); then, after I close my eyes, I notice movement within me (first as desire and later as distraction); and eventually, if I hold still long enough, I notice God’s movement (which may also simply be stillness, or perhaps a quickening, an intimation, a sigh).

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