Adjusting the camera to its closest setting, I got down on my hands and knees on the rough, trail surface. I was more careful than usual to support the camera in such a way that it didn’t slip and end up against the subject which lay less than an inch from my lens. I focused and clicked.

Yes, it’s true I took a photo of a bird droppings today.

I took this paparazzi style photo of a not-chicken along the Herman Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Tim Graves
I took this paparazzi style photo of a not-chicken along the Herman Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Tim Graves

As I hiked the Herman Creek Trail today I spied a flock of birds fifteen feet ahead. I quickly turned on my camera and quietly approached. (One of my goals is to get more photos of  The Things That Move.) I snapped a couple not-so-clear photos. The birds reminded me of chickens. Not knowing what these birds were, I took a photo of the droppings they left to help me track down their identity.

After photographing bird poop, I continued on my way. My thoughts turned to the excrement I did not photograph on a recent hike in the Cape Perpetua. That turned out to be bear leavings.

Later as I continued my journey, I discovered the feather of a Steller’s Jay across my path. I confess it was hard not to grin in joy at its azure beauty. In each of these cases — the yet-to-be identified chicken-like birds, the bear, and the Steller’s Jay — the leavings tell us about the creature.

It is the same with people. There is a reason nurses and doctor’s monitor intake and outtake when we are ill. Our waste reveals something about us.

It’s not just physical but social waste, however, that reveals something about us.

Following encounters with others, what do we leave? For example, following an argument with my wife, do I do the work to reach reconciliation or do I leave the residue of hurtful statements? In the first, I reveal a commitment to my marriage and a respect for her as a full human being. In the later, I reveal an inability or unwillingness to do the hard work of relationship maintenance. In both I reveal something about my character and my personal journey.

Divine One, help me to remember my connectedness with and impact on others. Help me to consider what I leave behind as I journey this life. When I reach the end of my trail, may others find azure feathers of love, respect, and affirmation in my wake. Amen.

2 thoughts on “Revealing Leavings

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