Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Impractical Place for a Nest

For all practical purposes, most of my major nesting endeavors are behind me. Multiple times a year I do however assist, or even prod my children into temporary nest relocation; moving in and out of dorm rooms and packing for camps and summer trips. Returning debris is an inherent element in the eventual dissolution of these temporary nests – nothing says summer like a garage full of my daughter’s dorm room contents and muddy hiking boots from the boys last camp out.

Nests seem to be a recurring theme in my life this summer. A small flower pot on my front porch was invaded last month by a pair of Mourning Doves. I was initially unimpressed with their choice of nest location. It is a really small pot, six inches in diameter, hung at eye level. Watching those birds attempt to maneuver in that small space while they built the nest was comical. It took about four days, and the birds tolerated my constant interruptions to take pictures. Posing was the least they could do, considering I was sacrificing a perfectly good pot of violets for their new home.

Once the nest was finished, they were stuck with me. We discovered another nest directly outside the family room window, and watching the birds became a family past time. My daughter Allie did a bit a research. Mourning Doves like to nest in pine trees, and we had to have a large one in our front yard removed last fall, which explains the abundance of nests near my house. Mourning Doves mate for life. The mother and father take turns sitting on the nest, so Momma bird didn’t really get testy in the afternoon – it was Dad’s watch and he did not appreciate our company.

The spring storms descended and I watched my little doves sit calm and dry on their nest. I guess it wasn’t such a bad location after all. After each storm we’ve had many causalities dislodged from nests around the house, but my little front porch family remained in tact. After several weeks, our little Patrick was hatched. Yes, I named him. We also had two doves born the same day that we could watch from the back window, but Patrick is my favorite. He is a few weeks old now and still sits on the porch and in the trees in the garden. He usually lets me get close – I like to think he remembers my voice. It’s a long shot, but it makes me happy to believe it.

Obliviously Patrick’s parents knew something the other doves didn’t. I like to think they had a little divine intervention; my front porch was their own designated promised land. I’ve never seen a bird put a nest that low and exposed before. Ironically their offspring were safer than the birds high in the trees, because the storms have been so violent.

What does that mean for me? How do I know I’ve chosen the optimal, safest location for a nest? Am I like the Israelites – too afraid to enter into the Promised Land because it really looks unsafe from my vantage point? My children are almost grown. The nest I’ve loved manning for the past two decades is going the way of the pine tree in my front yard, yet I’m not really sure where God is directing me. Maybe, like the doves, God is asking me to seek shelter and put down roots in a new vocation, to focus my nesting instincts in a new direction. Nothing looks very safe from where I’m standing, but one thing is for sure – that pine tree is going whether I move or not.

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