During my 26+ years serving as a District Court Judge, I have spent a significant amount of time on the road, traveling to other courthouses to preside as well as on other official business. Over that time, I have put on well over 200,000 miles in service of the State of Minnesota, and this doesn’t even count the daily 16-mile round trip to the Sibley County Courthouse!
A lot of the time, the commute has been routine, even dull. Listening to the radio or a book on tape (OK, I’m dating myself once again!) passes some of the time.
Occasionally, however, the unexpected brings me back to realize the beauty of this world. One such time I was traveling to court in the morning, north about 14 miles of pretty straight county road. The sun was rising to my right. It was up just enough to illuminate the breast of a rooster pheasant standing on the side of the road, making his brightly colored feathers seems almost ablaze. How lucky I was, I thought, to have such beauty to help me start the day.
Then, a mile or so later, another pheasant with the same blazing colors firing my imagination. Then another and another.
By the time I had turned off that road, I had passed six rooster pheasants, each one blazing more brilliantly in the morning sun than the one I had passed earlier. An amazing trip!
Another morning, the dew was heavy as the sun rose. As the road turned from heading north to east, the sun struck the dew on hundreds – no, thousands! – of spider webs in the tall grass of the road ditch. Mile after mile of sparkling diamonds suspended between the grasses in magnificent patterns. It was prayer-inspiring!
The final mental image I will recall happened one evening as I was heading home from court or a meeting. As I turned to head west, my rearview mirror was almost completely filled by a breathtaking full moon just above the horizon.
The moon followed me for perhaps a half hour, when either it rose or I turned. While that full moon continued to be beautiful to behold, the stunning splendor I had first seen in the mirror was gone.
Far too seldom, I rouse myself out of routine to watch for the surprising beauty that surrounds each of us every day. I whisper a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to quit worrying about the past or planning for the future to enjoy the exquisite beauty of the present.
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Next Week: Making Policy