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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#43 Fox.

Attentive listening. Keeping still. Being quiet.

Not exactly my strong points if I’m honest.

I’m too preoccupied. Too busy. Too often wrapped up in the frenzy of what I’m doing.

I don’t think I’m alone.

To mark the start of Holy Week last night, I got my mum to lead our Upper Room community in a meditation.

It felt like a hot spiritual soak in the bath.

Peaceful and deep. Reflective and still.

My life needs more of that kind of experience.

Turning the dial down on hyperactivity is a big challenge for many us.

We live like those booted racket-tail hummingbirds I saw once in a David Attenborough programme.

Their lives are off the scale manic. A constant high-speed race to suck up 2,000 hits of nectar before the sun goes down.

Not dissimilar, then, to our shopping streets, train platforms, and school drop offs. You name it some of us are rushing to it.

Maybe we can learn from the feeding habits of another Attenborough favourite - the arctic fox. They exist in the harshest wintry conditions. Food is scarce. Yet slowly, quietly and calmly, they listen for a hint of something edible. Sensing the slightest movement, they launch into a spectacular leap and dive headfirst into the snow. One feed can sustain it for days.

Over this period of Lent, I’ve tried to adopt a more arctic fox-like rhythm to my day.

Jesus was a master at it. John’s Gospel records a lovely human moment when he actually hides from the hummingbird crowds. In the face of life’s frenzy, he knew the power and necessity of slowing down, being quiet and going deeper.

My own leap into the spiritual feeding grounds has seen me try to pause, pray and listen more. To be more present. To not lose it when my kids fall out over a hairbrush.

As the Psalmist writes: ‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.’

So my biggest spiritual lesson of this Lent Season?

Be less hummingbird. Be more arctic fox.

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