When we came for a viewing of the house we live in now, my
husband and I were like a pair of young love-birds looking for a place to nest,
though we wouldn’t have said it in as many words. After guiding us through the house from
bottom to top, the homeowner announced with joy that she had one more thing to
Bustling through the front room she led us back out to the wide,
smiling porch and pulled down a hanging basket.
Peering down between the flowering vines we saw a small bird’s nest with
eggs. We nodded our heads as she told us
about the birds, a pair of sparrows who nested there every year and we listened
too to the mother bird chirping her concern from the nearby red-bud tree.
It seemed an auspicious sign, an omen of sorts. We bought the house in a flurry of excitement
and spent the next nine years growing into it, filling it with
one after another of these beautiful, bright-eyed birds.
* * *
The other day as I parked at the curb in front of that same
porch, freshly painted white, it seemed as though our house was surrounded by
birds. There were really only a handful,
but they flew so in the sunlit sky that their motion conveyed a crowd and I
wondered at their gathering here.
Looking up I saw a Cardinal alight on the old rusted T.V. antennae and there
he sat for a moment like a sign, a bright bit of fire sent from heaven.
This morning as I paused at the back door looking at the
maple tree unfolding its first tender green leaves, I saw the birds gathering
again. It was as though they’d called a
meeting on our small lot and they tussled about to find their seats before the
proceedings began, hopping from the maple to the golden-ing forsythia and
fence, then back again to the tree.
As I stood marveling at their presence, the cardinal
came swooping through the yard like a flaming arrow shot through the air.
* * *
We’re trying to decide whether and when to leave
this home that’s nested us for almost nine years now. As we discern, I find
myself looking everywhere for the small and flitting signs of God’s presence
and direction. Is it foolish that the arrival
of these birds is enough to give me pause as we vacillate between anxiety and
It’s possible, I guess, that these birds are telling us to
stay. But watching them I’m reminded of
the passage in James and the Giant Peach
where a mass of over five-hundred sea gulls lifts the peach through the air on
strands of spiders’ silk and I picture these birds here doing the same;
gathering, lifting, calling us out to a new place, telling us gently and
joyfully that it’s time to go.
* * *
in my spiritual director’s lovely meeting space I notice the same flocking,
winging crowd as the trees and bushes at her house are also filled with birds.
I mention how the birds are so robust this year and she says she’s noticed it
as we are praying in silence I hear God say, “I will be with you wherever you
Now, sitting at my computer as the
birds continue to toss their songs into the air and the trees open their
pink-blossomed hands, I wonder if this is what the birds know, if this is why
they sing, this song of assurance, “I will be with you wherever you go.”
each of our lives, each of our souls, is a nest where the spirit of God comes
to settle like the gentle gray and pink-breasted morning dove I saw the other day. Finally here at last the Son of Man has a place to lay his head,
here in the heart of you and me and every living thing. And maybe, just maybe,
this is why, this is what, the birds are singing.