Favorite Finds (birdsong edition)

I woke up to birdsong and thought it was a dream.

I thought it was my sweet new birdsong alarm clock, the one that got me through the dark winter months. But it was the sound of REAL LIFE birds outside my window, red robins waking up the world, and me.

I opened the window and let in the cold spring air and the full song of the red robin.

That clear morning whistle made me consider all I am listening to, all that's rattling around with those big blue marbles in my head, all the sounds settling into my heart.

This month's edition of my Favorite Finds is all about sounds and listening with intent. If you can find little pockets of quiet in the noise of your day, reach out and grab them, see what shakes out if you hold on for a moment or two or twenty. My experience is that these little pockets of quiet are rare. They don't just pop up, or maybe they do, but we rush right past taking our corners on two wheels and never stop to enjoy them.

I am finding that I have to be a bit more intentional to find and enjoy silence or beautiful sounds. Listening well includes reaching my hand into these quiet pockets and staying until my fingertips are warm.

For those times when I cannot manage to find pure silence, when there is work to be done in a noisy world, I can still fill my ears with goodness as I go along. That is what I did recently when I had to take care of a dreaded appointment, waiting in the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver's license. I've tried reading in that dimly lit waiting room in the past, but his time I brought along my earbuds and a podcast loaded onto my phone.

I have never had such a short and soaring trip to the DMV. Ever. So because I want you to have happier waiting room experiences at the DMV, the dentist, the doctor, the airline gate or wherever you have to wait under flickering fluorescent lights with frustrated people, I had to offer them to you. I could actually smile at the people around me and share some sunshine from my plastic chair and linoleum square.

The album I am listening to is Blindfaller by Mandolin Orange

If you love the craft of songwriting, folk music, steel guitar, girl fiddle playing and the mandolin, you're in for a treat. If not, then I don't know you.

Mike and I have seen Emily and Andrew, the duo that is Mandolin Orange, twice now in small, sweet venues close enough to see the lace on her dress and the sweat on his brow.

Andrew's songwriting is inspiring for writing and life. His voice sounds lazy, deeply soulful with rounded corners. Emily's voice in harmony gives you those abundant notes beyond the blending. The music he and Emily make together is a lingering kind like porch-sitting on a summers day.

Here are a few lyrics from their song Lonesome Whistle,

All eyes out on the railroad, all eyes out sea.
All these things travel darling mean nothing once your soul has been set free.
So hear that lonesome whistle blowing, in the shadows of the sin.

If I ever get to sit down with them over a cup of coffee or a glass of bubbly water, I hope just to enjoy their laughter, to sit with authenticity and a different kind of gospel shoes than they sing of.

Speaking of gospel shoes, mine are getting muddy out on the wooded trails near my home.

Most mornings, I take long rainy walks listening to podcasts. I walk the mossy paths along Iron Mountain Trail, the remnants of an old iron foundry.

Here is what is in my ears on these walks.

The The Open Door Sisterhood podcast about faith, motherhood and leadership is hosted by friends and authors Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall. I have loved their guest list, their extrovert/introvert dynamic and how well they listen to their guests.

One of my favorite Sister interviews was with Heather Avis, author of (The Lucky Few: Finding God's Best in the Most Unlikely Places). I was smitten with how Heather framed her privilege of choosing, adopting and parenting special needs children. Two of her beautiful children have Downs syndrome and one is a spirited girl of Guatemalan descent.

I was already on my journey of writing about the autism rainbow and awe-tism, so her words were affirming to the way my heart had grown to view autism, not at first, but over time.

One thing leads to another and that is how I found Susie Davis' podcast Dear Daughters. I heard her Sister interview on the Open Door Sisterhood and enjoyed it so much, I went looking for more of her and then discovered she had her own podcast.

One thing I like about the Dear Daughter podcast is even though her listeners are mostly women, her guests are both men and women. That is how I found Casey Tygrett, the author of becoming curious: A Spiritual Practice of Asking Questions.

I have not read this one, it is not even on bookshelves yet. But after the interview, I pre-ordered it pronto. Casey spoke of spiritual direction, paying attention and rest. I was all in.

I am also listening to pretty much anything Eugene Peterson has to say or write.

I have to tell you, I have a huge, holy crush on Eugene Peterson. I have books to share with you later in the month, but for more on the man behind his words, try these:

Eugene Peterson with Bono

In Between the Man and the Message

I began with waking up to the song of the robins outside my window. Let me end with the birdsong I am falling asleep to, a song by Mandolin Orange, called Echo,

"Reached night, The starlight and the sea,
Together form eternity,
And the wind moves like an echo
As the world drops all, to sleep"

What birdsong do you hear? What are you intentionally listening to? Share your favorite finds with me.