Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Know Who You Are

May 4, 2009

The lessons from bird-watching just keep being offered up outside. Yesterday, at least ten cardinals swooped in front of me on the golf course. This morning as I left the neighborhood to work on a “Megan-inspired project” yet another bright red cardinal gave me his stamp of approval for my day. These are just little signs along the way of grief, giving a bit of encouragement and hope. Maybe it is because these days I get up actively looking for it –looking for ways to make the day brighter, fight the loss, find the good. And consistently and without fail, God provides beauty and humor and lessons through his gifts in Nature in our world.

Larry, Curly, and Moe – the baby robins outside, are growing up and the nest is getting crowded. In the five minutes or so that I watched them today through the window, I see that there are in fact, four, so I will call the new one Extra! They have something that looks like pre-feathers and their bodies are now in more proportion to their beaks. The mother has her work cut out for her. While she teeters on the edge of the nest, nudging one to get up, she is holding another one down with her foot, then she moves around the nest, trying to coordinate and balance her big family. She leaves to get food and the brave one hops up in her place and prances around the rim of the nest, just to fall back on top of the others when he sees her returning. In many ways, they are a lot like puppies – or children. Some are calm, some are busy, some are risk takers, and some are late bloomers.

But tragedy has struck again. My young neighbor found an injured adult Robin between our properties. I wanted to be as upset as he was, but my adultness kept those worries concealed. I diverted his attention to the four baby robins and I assured him that there were two parents and if one was not to return to the nest, then the other one would take the responsibility of getting them airborn. Then I showed him the wren’s nest and we listened to the squeaking of yet a third nest of fledglings in a birdhouse. He went to his home assured (I hope) that all birds were safe. I went inside and cried for the loss.

As my eyes kept wandering outside during dinner, Dr. Feelgood said I was getting a little overboard on the bird thing, but I could not help feeling sad for the bird that I know now did not survive. But the good news is that the other Robin shows little signs of grief, but continues to feed and care for the four in the nest. When he first returned he seemed a little lost and agitated being left alone to carry on the task of parenting. I guess when you are a bird, there is no choice but to instinctively do the right thing. We humans, blessed with higher cognitive abilities have the power of reasoning and are influenced by outside forces that tell us to give up, get depressed, run away, shirk our duty. We are encouraged to turn inward with sympathizers. We are reminded that life is not fair. I heard a friend speak the other day about integrity. He said, “If you know who you are, then you will know what to do”. He said that when we know who we are then we can live the lives for which we have been created. He said we could carry on in the midst of life’s tragedies and uncertainties. I wonder if he is a bird-watcher. Birds obviously know who they are, for they continue, regardless of their circumstances, to live out their lives, doing what they have been created to do – again and again. That’s encouragement.

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