The last of our robin chicks is trying to leave the nest. Three fledglings have already flitted away as expected but Number Four hasn’t decided to take the leap of faith from our porch to freedom. He appears confused and afraid. He hops from the nest to the awning’s torsion bar and back into the nest. He’s spent all morning in this little exercise . . . . out, in, out, in. The most he will do is occasionally and briefly face the trees and grass instead of the brick-and-concrete he’s known for the last month.
They’re “our” robins because Hubby and I watched mother robin build the nest she safely tucked between a corner column of our porch and the awning. Back and forth all day she worked, disappearing only at night. One day she sat in the nest all day, into the evening, at night before we went to bed, and she was there in the morning. The first time we noticed that she was away, we peered inside and there to our delight was a beautiful, turquoise egg. The next day there was another, and the next day, another, and on the fourth day there was the fourth egg. (American robins typically lay one egg a day.)
We watched during the next two weeks as her mate served her worms and insects or gave her a short respite while he took a quick turn on the nest. Generally speaking, the eggs hatch in the order in which they were laid. We weren’t able to observe the hatching order, but we were thrilled the day we discovered four naked hatchlings with large eyes under translucent skin. We started checking on them daily and witnessed soft down appear. We marveled at how quickly they changed –the eyes opening, the downy fluffs replaced by tiny sheaths sticking out like cactus spines, which cracked and opened to reveal feathers. We called them our Little Peeps.
I feel for the little guy I’m watching this morning. Faith is hard and for some, much harder than for others. His siblings’ faith was enough for them but his is still growing. Maybe he was the Fourth Egg and the last to hatch. Maybe he just needs another few days, but seeing the others fledge –and being alone in the nest without crowded company and without Mother– maybe he is pushing himself before he is ready. Or maybe he is ready but needs that push. How does he know? How do we know?
We don’t know. Faith is hard.
It seems so long ago, now, when I needed to end a relationship but the view ahead was scarier than the view I knew. One moment I felt strong and capable but the next I felt weak and vulnerable. People who cared about me didn’t understand my resistance, but they patiently loved me while my faith wobbled into existence. They waited while I pitied myself. They waited while I pushed myself. They waited while I struggled with paralyzing fear of the unknown, sometimes even afraid to look at the freedom of trees and grass. Would I be entombed within the brick and concrete that imprisoned me, feeling abandoned and alone? Would I spread my wings and jump, only to fall? To fail?
I was more comfortable with the view I knew than the freedom of faith. Until . . .
The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. –Anais Nin
A living library
Observing, studying, and listening to nature is one of the easiest, most reliable ways we humans can learn the wisdom of God. It is inarguably a magnificent gift from the Creator. It is a living library.
It’s God Google!
Through the natural world we learn that diversity, vulnerability, and even death are essential to life. The cycle of death and rebirth is omnipresent: seeds die in order to bring new life and wildfires ensure new forest growth. Everywhere there is transformation, shedding the old: caterpillars; snakes; even the vulnerable lobster that risks death in order to grow. The wisdom is endless because there is nothing in the natural world that we cannot learn from, if we stop trying to dominate it and instead, appreciate the beautiful way that the Creator makes creation work together.
God, through creation, says “I am with you where you are.”
Christians are taught that Christ is the Word incarnate, God in a bodily or material form. But how many of us realize that all of creation is God incarnate? God among us? Creation is God’s way of being with us: above us, below us, beside us, within us. Communion with nature is communion with God. We know God is here in the natural world so we will be where nature is, rather than try to force nature into being where we are.
Likewise, we should be saying to those on the fringes of society, “We will be where you are, because we know that God is with you. We do not insist that you be where we are. We will come to you, stranger, foreigner, immigrant, homeless, hungry, sick, imprisoned. Because that is where God’s heart is and we want to be near God’s heart.”
In the alternative, we could admit we do not want to be near God’s heart so then we can avoid all those people.
We want easy faith. But faith is hard. We long to hear God’s voice from a literal burning bush rather than spend time gleaning wisdom that the winged euonymus bush holds. Indeed, God speaks to us in many ways but we need eyes to see and ears to hear, just like Jesus said. Impatient and unwilling to wobble, we want divine answers to all of our questions, divine solutions to all of our problems, and divine courage miraculously bestowed upon us when we are scared to death. Worse than our impatience with God, though, is our impatience with ourselves. If we are open, listening, observing, and willing to let go of our need to control everything, including time, then we will grow in faith.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu
Our little Fourth Egg wasn’t ready when his siblings were. He is ready when he is ready. I feel blessed to witness it, not by coincidence but by divine inspiration, when I “happen” to walk out on the porch to see him blinking at me, allowing me to get very near and take his picture, before he turn, turn, turns, and flies away. “Thank you for the lesson,” I whisper.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. –Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
What do you think?