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  • Writer's pictureTracy Spiaggia

The Journey of a Nest

Mama bird on her eggs.

Mama with her 3 chicks.

The nest is getting crowded!

Mama bird is forced out to a nearby branch.

The nest is empty.

Earlier this summer, I noticed a beautiful dove building a nest in a tree just outside the window of our powder room. I had a front row seat every day to this amazing process. It was so fascinating to observe her toil and create, knowing exactly the impetus…”hurry, my babies are coming and must have the perfect cozy spot!” Didn’t we all nest just the same way? Frantically setting every single thing in its proper place? After she had laid her eggs, each morning, I’d turn on the light and she’d reposition herself overtop of her eggs so that she could stare me down as if to threaten, “don’t you even dare!” I get it mama bird…I totally get it! This went on for weeks. I thought to myself, “we females sure are patient–never losing our resolve to protect our offspring, no matter the species!” It’s beautiful, really. I thought back to all of my pregnancies. I’d try my best to do everything with super clean, sleep well, exercise-albeit gently so as not to jostle my baby, position my seatbelt just so, have the baby’s room ready by week 12, etc. I am positive I am not alone here. God instilled this crazy love in us, to fiercely protect those we have not yet met but whom God foreknew since the beginning of time. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Before I conceived you, I wanted you. Before I birthed you, I loved you. The moment you were born, I’d die for you.” Only a mom can understand, whether you carried that child or hand-selected yours through the beautiful process of adoption. A mom is a mom. Period.

Eventually the eggs hatched and three fuzzy, peeping chicks bounced all around the nest. They were seriously beyond adorable. I wish they’d let me hold them, but mama bird had established that boundary very early on. Well, each day those chicks grew and grew. Mom frenetically scoured the yard searching for worms and other food. They’d all stretch their necks out as far as possible, showing zero regard for each other’s needs. Sound familiar? This scene also made me reflect on my family. Three kids, three chicks. Self-centered, yup. Demanding their needs be met immediately, yup. Stomping all over each other, yup. Whether it’s a nest or a center hall colonial…it’s the same story in every home. But, it was still vastly endearing watching them develop–even more so watching mine.

By July, the chicks were no longer chicks, but full grown birds. Funny thing, though is that they all still tried to fit in that same nest. It was hysterical to watch them all vie for their piece of real estate. Can you guess the accommodation that had to be made? Those teenagers got so big that they ousted mom to a nearby branch! They’d snuggle up on each other when they were sleepy, but poor mom had to make due with her stark branch. She never left, though. She stood her post! The next phase was really cool. She taught her young adults to fly, one by one. They’d flap their wings in vain for a while, but that’s all part of the process. In time, they’d pick up enough air to make it to a lower branch. One day, one of them made it chaotically to the ground. One of my dogs capitalized on its vulnerability and bolted for it! That poor bird couldn’t get airborne but ran like it was on fire across the entire yard. Don’t one was injured in the making of this post. I got to my dog in time! That young bird learned an invaluable lesson, though. You’d better figure this flying thing out ASAP! I superimposed this scene onto my oldest’s season of life. He too must learn to “fly” or else the world will chase him down just like Millie did to the bird. I’ll always be perched on a nearby branch, though, just like mama bird. Like her, I’ll let him struggle to hustle across the yard of life so that he can learn self-sufficiency, but will come alongside if ever things get too threatening.

Within a couple of days, the three of them were gone. Mom sat alone once again in her nest. A few days later, she abandoned the nest for good as well. I’d check it daily (still do, to be honest) to see if she had come back. But, no. They are all gone. Off to the next chapter of their lives. All doing their own independent bird thing.

Sob, sob, sob.  With a 17-year-old preparing for “flying” off to college, this 2-month long journey tugged oh-so-hard at my hearstrings! I’m grieving the impeding day when my nest is empty. It’s literally around the corner. While it’s completely natural and even lovely to be blessed with a healthily progressing family story, it still hurts. I tend not to transition through life’s stages with much grace. I kind of trip and stumble from one to the next. Just ask my poor husband. But, that’s the way God made me. I’m a highly sensitive personality type who struggles to leave behind all that was good and trust that I’m stepping into something just as good–or even better. I wax nostalgic for a long, long time. By the time I’ve recovered from the last goodbye, I find myself facing a new one. C’est la vie, I guess.

If you’re in a similar season of life, take heart. Each day brings with it glorious promise of a journey, not of predictable stability and repeat. We really don’t want Groundhog days, for that would quickly become mundane and boring. Instead, Jesus invites us to “walk” with Him, trusting that His plan for each of us is perfect. Peace is not found in the falsely perceived safety of carbon copy days, but in the unmatched promises of love and grace that come only in relationship with Christ. Even once Nicholas (and eventually Jack and Ave) “flies” into his own future, God remains with me, with him, with us all. Don’t miss that truth by lamenting things beyond your control. Aim to hit a stride in life that eagerly awaits the day’s changes, trusting in the One who holds it all! God, like the mama bird, tucks each of us under His wings, providing refuge and comfort. I pray you never look at a bird the same way again. Instead, I hope each and every bird you see from now on reminds you of His neverending love.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” -Psalm 91:4

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