A robin must have taken up residence somewhere near my window. I hear her chirping at dawn and at dusk, a chirping whose gentleness exceeds all gentleness.

Our resident deer, on the other hand, have not done much to make their presence known over the past few weeks. It seems that they may have wandered out to explore the world beyond our walls, now that the world beyond our walls is a little less full of human activity.

Things are, indeed, slowing down a bit around us. Our daily routines now include a good deal of time for reading, writing, and contemplation. Our daily routines now include a good deal of time for mindfulness in doing ordinary things like sorting the mail, watering the plants, cleaning the house, preparing food, and enjoying the consumption of said food. Our daily routines are now jazzed up by things that would have seemed insignificant three weeks ago, such as witnessing the signing of another housemate’s legal documents or absentee ballot.

The daily routines of our neighbors likewise seem to have become a bit more leisurely. It seems that everyone’s daily routine now involves driving less, staying at home more, playing catch in the yard more often, and traversing the sidewalks and roads on foot more frequently.

These days of slowing – of pseudo hibernation – remind us that it’s OK to unfill our days.

Under normal circumstances, we’re driven, persuaded, or expected to fill every last minute of our days with measurably productive activity. We’re perhaps even driven, persuaded, or expected to extend our days into the bounds of sleepless exhaustion, so that we can continue filling each minute with measurably productive activity. But now we’ve been given permission – indeed, we’re expected –  to unfill days that were once very full. This sudden reversal from filling to unfilling is unarguably a shock – no doubt an unpleasant one for many of us.

But blessing may likewise lie within this time of unfilling. Provided that each of us remains healthy and able to support ourselves, we may find much blessing in these new daily routines that invite us to unfill. We may find blessing in these days that invite us to make room for enjoyment of the act of simply being. We may find blessing in these days that invite us to connect spiritually in compassionate solidarity with those whose circumstances prevent them from finding blessing in this time of unfilling.

The deer, it seems, have found blessing in these new daily routines that minimize the number of cars and people whom they encounter in their explorations beyond our walls! I miss our resident deer and hope to see them again soon.

In the meantime, I am grateful for the company of the robin near my window, who blesses each morning and each evening with her gentlest of gentle chirping.

Deo gratias!