Back in May, we discovered a haphazard nest in one of the eaves of our carport. Gaines climbed a ladder to inspect it and found a handful of eggs. Once they hatched, he began taking pictures to document the baby birds we hoped to watch grow and develop and fly away.
Then we noticed something odd -- one of these things is not like the other:
Do you see it, there in the back? One bird's a little taller, larger, with a different colored beak. An uglybird.
A cowbird, technically. He took over our nest of wrens. We're not sure what happened exactly, but we figured he hatched early and duped the parents into bringing him food. Lousy parasite.
A few weeks later, he's all that's left:
Look at that plump, smug, pompous sass of a bird, taking up the entire nest. Probably smothered the poor little wrens, eliminating his adoptive siblings and eating them out of house and home. I hope it wasn't literal. We never did see him fly away; we just noticed one day that the nest was empty.
Now, in June, the mother and father wren have returned to clean out the nest and start fresh. Thankfully, they often lay two sets of eggs in a season. They are fragile things, those incubators of life. We pray these new little ones survive to find freedom.
Much like those parent wrens, my efforts at writing over the past several years have been getting smothered. I've been paying too much attention to everyone else's words and failing to produce any lasting ones of my own. (The cowbird in my analogy is the "save" button. Hundreds of drafts that may never see the light.) Of course, I've also felt another kind of uglybird smothering me: the heavy, feathered weight of grief. It's still there, but lifted slightly. I can breathe again.
And so, this summer, I'm clearing out and starting over. (You may have noticed I christened our humble blog with a new template.) It's still the same nest, just slightly neater, with a fresh covering of twigs.
I read a post recently that encouraged me to do something, one thing, anything well. Yes, I love my children well. I may not discipline them well or teach them well or feed them well or pray for them as well or as often as I would like. I've come to realize I will never be the perfect "me" in my head that can memorize an entire chapter of Scripture, have a house full of clean floors, prepare nine servings of vegetables, read five books aloud, bake homemade sandwich bread, and put away seventeen freshly folded piles of laundry all on the same day. But I can write about the imperfect me. The one that spills and slips, yells, crashes, and yes, even reads and sings and lets my children paint.
They are fragile things, these children and these words that incubate our life. I hope to tend them well, to post often and much, first thing, before those other birds catch my attention with their pretty feathers. Also, to keep away any uglybirds.
Here's to a new beginning.