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Mothering Nature

nest momWhy wouldn’t she?
Build her nest there
Under cover
Nestled behind
Safe from harm?

Why wouldn’t she?
Trust her pair of eggs
To its softness
Smooth and deep
Hidden from view?

Why wouldn’t she?
Sit upon them
Warm and waiting
For their hatching
Into the new day?

All was quiet
All was still
All was perfect
All, until

FullSizeRenderWe came storming,
Into her nursery
On our front porch.

Poor Mom Sparrow,
Stared in fear
As two puppies
Saw her there.

No sweet talking
Could keep her home
Off she flew
to save her own.


No more safety
No more rest
No little hatchlings
Would leave this nest.

Mother Sparrow,
please forgive me
Come again
to build your nest.

We can share this sacred bounty,
Quiet shelter, perfect rest.

The Nesting Tree

Tucky 1_0002You would have loved my mom. She was diligent and dutiful, industrious and ingenious, fashionable and fastidious, a loyal friend and devoted spouse.

If there were room-moms back then, she would’ve been a great one. If there were sports-Mom awards given, she would have been well-decorated. She cooked a mean pot roast, prepared an awesome peach pie and baked chocolate chip cookies like nobody’s business.

Nowadays, there are only a few folks who remember Mom because she left us in 1982. That was eight years before I became a mom, which may help explain how completely delighted but totally unprepared I was to be a mom. Diapers? Never done ’em. Naptime? Oh, they take ’em? Cribs? Bibs? Baths? High chairs? Pacifiers or thumbs? Nursing or bottles? Baby talk or big kid words? So many questions! It was a brave new world out there for me.

Books, of course I read them, but Dr. Spock along with What to Expect When You’re Expecting can only do so much. Nothing really prepares you for the unexpected, and those bundles of joy are the complete un-package. They foil you at every turn, then delight you at every opportunity. They have you totally wracking your brain (after you realize this is NOWHERE in any of the books) and completely surprise you when they solve it their own way. Somehow, they survive babyhood and so do you. This is nothing short of miraculous, really, given a mom’s resources and the magnitude of the task.

So, as we come upon Mother’s Day and I give thanks for my mom, I am particularly aware of so many other “moms” in my life who have lent their wisdom and kindness and a heaping dose of patience. I am thankful…

  • For a step mom, ever at the ready, who was devoted to my dad and my kids
  • For an aunt who called, cared, listened and even read chapters of my novel
  • For a neighboring mom who invited me to the first church that got under my skin
  • For my mom’s dearest friend, to whom my mom is still an ever-present companion
  • For my friends who beautifully model what motherhood looks like and should be

This last makes me think of Mary Anne, a special friend, the wife of a pastor and mother to three boys, who now has a gaggle of grandchildren. Recently she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. When she messaged me the news I was struck with complete disbelief. This vital woman, so engaged with her family, so alive in the church and so full of life…how could she have received this devastating news?

From a thousand miles away, there was nothing I could do or say, so I did what I do: I rode my bike as fast and as far as I could. All along the way I asked, Why, God? Why this woman? Why now? When she has given her whole life to her family, her friends, her husband, her church? Why this Mom?

IMG_0601That’s when God drew my attention to the tree in the distance. It stood all alone, branches bare of leaves, with limbs reaching proudly upward and outward. Without foliage, it reminded me of the future I saw for my friend, when she would lose her hair thanks to chemo and much of her body weight under the stress of illness.

I  climbed off my bike, stood and stared. Looking at this tree, I God-imagined a nest in every branch. Each one securing its babies, some peeking out and cheeping to be fed, others wobbling to the edge to risk taking flight. How many young had this woman fledged? Not only her sons with their wives and young children, but dear friends she had walked beside: Bible study companions, congregation members, nearby neighbors and all of their children. I was certain that this woman had been mom to a vast array of children, including me, and including my children. She was the nesting tree. No illness would ever take that away.

This Mother’s Day, while I give thanks to God for my mom, I am especially grateful for the moms I know who labor in the nests of their lives with vigor, fortitude and creative aplomb. I smile to think of the moms my girls may someday be, praising God for the gift of Mary Anne and the many others who have taken me under-wing.

It’s what a mother does. It’s what we’re meant to do.

Step by step instructions: God’s GPS for all creation

Wouldn’t it be great if I could punch God into my GPS?

Turn right here.
In 6 tenths of a mile, exit right on Route 28.
Keep left on the ramp
Left on Home Rd.
You have arrived.

I especially like that last part. Of course I am ever doubting my nav system. I mean, does it really know the best route? Has it taken traffic into consideration? I’ll bet I can take a back route that is shorter and will save me time. Just give me the address.

Pretty soon we are arguing with each other.

Nav system: Turn here.

Me: I’m turning down there!

Nav: recalculating…

Me: Oh man, where am I?

Nav: Make a U-turn.

Actually, this sounds quite a bit like God and me. I’m thinking I may have a God-implanted Nav system after all. Turn here…no, I have a better way…oops… It’s that doing as it says thing. Honestly, I’d much rather He just tell me where we’re both gonna end up and leave the surface roads to me.

But I’m certain that’s not how it is supposed to work. I know because my best navigation days are the ones where I just listen for the next instruction. Can’t say it sounds anything like my Nav system voice. It’s more of a notion that pops into my head that insists I write it or read it or call it or research it or…

This morning my desk is covered with opportunity. Literally, everywhere I look something begs me to get busy on it. My prayer: “Which one?!” Quite profound, I know. And wouldn’t you know, God insists I write the card to a woman who has had hip surgery. Oh, He makes it make sense; I need to go to the post office anyway to mail my check to the IRS. Certified. Return receipt requested. Thank you for what you do, Government.

And that’s like God, to make it seem like this one thing is the only thing meant for this moment. the perfect choice. So I do. I write. And then God points out that our policy (His and mine) is to place the note in the mailbox directly after writing – not take it to the post office. Ohhhkaaay. So He’s tricked me into writing this card. But it’s nice out and I skip on down the porch steps, checking out the mulch that needs sweeping and…there, on the ground under the small holly tree is a nest. About the size of the palm of my hand. I can see the soft dog fluff lining the inside. On the way back from the mailbox I stoop to carefully examine this little treasure.

A tiny masterpiece that fits easily in my fingers.

A tiny masterpiece that fits easily in my fingers.

It weighs almost nothing. I examine its construction. Among the dog fluff are a couple leaves, and bits and pieces of sticks and stems that have been shaped and rounded. I see tufts of string from the carpeting we used to line the dog ramp. There’s a little plastic mesh; it probably came from the netting around our garden.

What I am holding in my hand is a masterpiece, of design, construction and ingenuity. How did it come to be? By the instincts of a mother bird who, step by step, followed the “voice” inside her. She doesn’t know “family.” She doesn’t know “planning.” She doesn’t know “what’s growing inside her.” She just knows what to do and does it.

And I look at this nest in amazement. The intricacies of its composition. The perfection of its design. It most certainly was several days’ effort in a season of breeding and care-taking and launching from the nest. This sparrow or tufted titmouse or black-capped chickadee mother just called on what was available to fulfill her need. And it was provided for her. Now THAT is amazing navigation.

Imagine if we had that implanted in us.

“Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?” ~ Matthew 6:26

Imagine if we trusted that all we need would be provided for us.
Imagine if we trusted that the know-how was already in us.
Imagine if we simply built our day like this mother built her nest.
Seeking…finding…crafting…then waiting.
Thank you, Pauline, for your inspiration. May your day be instinctive and very productive.
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