Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3 NIV84)
Two Robins, build tomorrow with grass and twigs. Their careful weaving is a holy work. They choose a place among the roses. A tangle of branches, with watchtowers of thorns, give them shelter and safety from unknown danger. There, they make an earthly deposit of hope. The bluest eggs I’ve ever seen. The sight of them causes me to gasp in wonder. “Only You God,” the whispered praise escapes my lips.
The days of anticipation pass. The new birds emerge, out of struggle. Into a life of the same. Both male and female Robin attend to the needs of their young. And it seems they always need. One small movement sends their heads up, necks outstretched, and mouths open wide. The care of their young is another kind of holy work. Birds bearing witness to a generous and giving Father who provides.
An unexpected day of rain and chill make me wonder how this family is faring. I watch from a window, in the comfort and shelter of my bedroom, as the female Robin sits. Her lovelies kept warm and dry under her protective covering. The words of Jesus fill my heart, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” The thought makes me ache.
In the rain, she continues to sit. Tender moments come intermittently. The male Robin, flies to the nest, rain-soaked. He perches delicately on a branch and feeds his female. I see, displayed before me, a picture of yet another holy work, this time a covenant. Is this what a Godly marriage is supposed to look like? Throughout the week, my husband keeps retelling this loving bird scene to everyone who will listen. Somehow, it struck a chord deep within.
The sun returned and with that, new feathers and eyes that carefully watched me, peeking carefully at them. Already planning their days, I imagine what they will look like fat and fully feathered, hopping along the ground, learning to fly. What a cause for tension it must surely be for this male and female, father and mother. From the branch of a nearby tree, the young mother Robin studies me as I sit on my doorstep. Perhaps she is considering the same. I quietly promise her, I won’t interfere.
In the bright morning sun of a new day, I see the nest. Torn to the ground. Grass and twigs, once woven with precision and delicacy, are now destroyed. A few small, shining feathers are scattered on the ground. The only reminders that potential once made its home among the beautiful roses. It could not keep the ugliness of a fallen world out. I look around, male and female, gone. In their absence, silence, and the stillness of a rosebush, I consider the holy work of grief.
Today, the morning sun promises warmth. And along the edge of a nearby field I see them. Flitting around each other in courtship. Perhaps a new start. And maybe it will stick this time around. Nothing is certain, is it? But in watching these avian mysteries, I see grace. And that it is sufficient.