“So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight.’” (Exodus 3:3) It wasn’t a burning bush that caught my eye, but it was something. What that something was “ain’t exactly clear,” (name the song and artist for bonus points). It was Wednesday afternoon, and I was walking with Kiko, my dog. We’d walked down Hollingsworth Road, across the bridge, and were passing Muse Vineyard fields on either side of us. I like to pay attention to my surroundings when I am walking, and in that area on the east side of the river, my imagination can run wild. I’m not fearful of lions or tigers in Woodstock, but bears are another matter.
It was pretty clear that what had caught my eye wasn’t a bear. Just inside the fence that surrounds that particular field of grape vines I noticed what looked at first glance like a small fawn, light brown in color, standing stock still. I approached to berm of the road for a closer look. The critter had a fairly bushy tail, narrow at the buttocks and fuller towards the end. The relatively slender body was partially hidden behind a fence post, and the head faced down towards the ground. It hadn’t moved at all. It looked more like a rangy dog, or perhaps a coyote. I’d never seen one of them in the wild, unless Wille Coyote on Saturday cartoons counts. Its stillness was spooky. Was it intent on some prey? Had the creature gotten electrocuted by the fence, fried for all time in that strange stance? What it rabid?
We silently stepped back to the middle of the road, leaving well enough alone. We walked to the State Park, and turned around. When we got to that vineyard, the critter was still there, in the same position.
Fast forward to Saturday. Taking full advantage of clearing weather and live music with Jimmie Lee, Rod and I spent a delightful hour visiting Muse Vineyard, taking in the music and view while we enjoyed some refreshments. On an earlier visit I introduced myself to Sally Cowal, one of the proprietors. Saturday, she said, “Thank you for coming back, Reverend.” I asked her about the animal I’d spied in the vineyard. She wondered aloud that she’d had a hard time getting her dog to leave that area earlier in the day, so perhaps there was a dead animal there. Then I showed her the photo above.
It turns out the critter is a cement statue of a coyote, placed there to scare deer away from the grapes. We all had a good laugh, and it provided a tiny moment of connection.
William James wrote, “At the end of your days, your life will have been what you paid attention to.” Moses, by taking the time to go over and look at a strange sight, encountered God in the burning bush, heard God speak God’s sacred name, YAHWEH, which sounds much like one single breath, inhaled and exhaled, which is exactly what God did when breathing the breath of life into the nostrils of the man made from the dust of the earth, and Adam became a living being.
Who knows where attentiveness might take us? To a burning bush? To a visual quirk in a vineyard? To a conversation with a neighbor? To God?
Pay attention today – who knows what might come from it. ~ Anne