build it nonetheless

There is a nest coming together just out the door. A few weeks ago, I noticed a male and female red finch checking out some prospective real estate at the top corners of my front porch. Their loud chatter would draw me to the window, and I'd pull up the blinds to see them. Usually they noticed the movement and flew away. I decided to try to lie low, honored by their attention to my lowly abode, and allow them to build a home of their own. I would only sneak a peek as I walked outside, pretending not to notice if I saw one of them perched in a corner. Each corner acquired a collection of stems and leaves, but then the next day I would find them scattered on the ground below the corner. Finally they chose a corner and committed to building an entire nest. It seemed to go up quickly, and then it was my pleasure to spy on the birds coming and going to and from their little home. I wondered if there would soon be tiny chirps amongst their adult chirps.

Then the storms came. If you were watching the news or listening to the radio, you know about it already. Tornadoes, high speed winds, tons of rain, even hail. We lost power for half a day, not bad at all compared to others who lost it for over a week. The day of the storms I noticed it gone, I cried out in surprise. Something in my chest tightened and I set out in the driving rain to look for the nest. I found it on the grass, face-down. I didn't want to disturb it, but I had to make sure. I turned it over - no sign of eggs. I checked under bushes and tore apart the grass with my eyes - no sign of eggs, not even broken ones. I silently thanked the powers that be and studied the intricate nest before putting it on the edge of the porch.

It struck a note with me, and I pondered how much my life was like that of the birds. I set out with an idea or a project, a goal in mind. I spend hours, days, months trying to get the particulars right. Sometimes the idea dies right there, and I wave goodbye with a "so long, sucker!" attitude, because the idea was too high-maintenance or I didn't have the means or know-how to put it into action. Other times the idea begins to come together. I work hard to weave it strand by strand, reinforcing the weak bits and insulating the parts meant to sustain and support me or others. As the thing draws to a finish, a storm comes. It is something I could not have known about or seen coming, yet it comes anyway, and ruthlessly it destroys the very thing I worked so hard to build. When this happens, I rarely come back to it. I usually let it fall apart and go back to the meaningless pieces it had been before the weaving. Sometimes, with a little self-encouragement, I can find the courage to continue. The idea I'm currently reviving is in its beginning stages, as small unrelated pieces. I have no idea how it will ever come together, or what will be birthed in me and my life if it does manage to come together.
But I'm going to try to build it nonetheless.

After the day of storms was over, the nest was nowhere to be found. I did not see the birds for nearly a week, and worried that they might have left altogether. To my pleasant surprise, they returned. For the past few days I have heard their lively talk as they perform the same ritual as before - choosing a corner for the nest. Each day I marvel at the corner full of twigs, and then I see them on the ground. They are beautiful. I wonder where the birds find this particular flower and why they choose it over others. I anxiously await the quick build of the nest, and hope that soon after I will see a guarded mother bird and hear tiny, joyous chirps.


natalie said...


nic said...

Such a beautiful image! And I love your title...reminds me of a similar line from the third installment of "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy": when his soldiers cry out that they cannot possibly win the war, King Theoden lifts his chin and says, "No, we cannot. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless." Maybe a bit more violent than your happy and persevering bird-friends, but similar idea. ;-P

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