The Empty Nest
By Mary B.Walsh
I have thought often of the "empty nest syndrome." I have read about it, and heard it discussed, always presented as that difficult transition in parenting when our young "leave the nest" to venture out on their own, whether to college, the service, in marriage, or simply "on their own."
There is another empty nest experience that is even more difficult, though. When a young person leaves the nest and takes a nose-dive, making an unwise, possibly destructive choice in his or her life. At times the consequences may impact the lives of the child and parents for years to come. These parents—and there are many—endure an experience that is not discussed as freely.
By God's good providence I watched a mother Blue Jay's diligent preparation of her nest and she demonstrated so beautifully what I wished to say to those who live this difficult experience.
From my journal….. June 1
Mother bird—where are you this morning?
It is no mistake that I have watched the careful building of your nest for two consecutive years. As I've stepped out onto the deck, exhilarated by the hope an early Spring morning lends a weary heart; I have watched your careful loving labor.
It's a perfect spot for a nest, so it would seem—two stories up on a corner log of our home, sheltered by an overhang.
I was saddened for you last year after watching you faithfully tend your eggs night and day, only to discover them hatched, revealing premature little birds—not strong enough to enter this world. We humans call this a miscarriage. I know the pain that brings, having looked into the faces of my own premature, stillborn babies.
But this year would be different—another Spring time, renewed hope. Again I watched your careful selection of twigs, straw and even a long swirl of toilet tissue—that was quite a find!
I marveled at your devotion, seated all day and night with your head cocked heavenward, beak straight and unflinching.
I must confess I took a peak last week and saw your five infant birds. We humans would call them quintuplets. They looked so snug and content in their comfy nest, awaiting the soon return of their faithful mother. I was happy for you.
How disappointed I was to discover your nest this morning, empty and abandoned. Was it a cat or perhaps an owl from the nearby woods that had been watching all along; lurking, just waiting for you to leave the nest so he could attack your young and take them from you. The nest is not just empty; it is desolate. Had they grown strong and you watched as each one took off in flight, it would be empty—but yours is a desolate nest.
Mother bird, I have a few things to tell you, wherever you are.
When you sit high in the tree tops listening to the chatter of the other mother birds, boasting of their young and their successful flights; some to far off places, some with families of their own—don't lose heart. Remember your loving preparation, your devotion before and after their birth; that you would have given your very life to protect them. And you will understand something deep within your heart that they may never know; that sometimes it has nothing to do with our single hearted devotion, efforts and best of intentions. Some things are simply beyond our control.
But if your find yourself in a lonely moment, tempted to despair, please remember this most important truth. Even the disruption of your nest, the loss of your young and your disappointment, were in God's perfect plan.
And did you know that the Lord's care and concern are not limited to us humans; he speaks of you as well.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father's will." ` Matthew 10:29
The Lord uses you often in His Word, my dear feathered friend, to bring a picture to mind that we humans can truly grasp. A favorite image of mine is found in the Psalms:
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. Psalm57:1
.......under the shadow of His wings—there's no place I'd rather be.
And so mother bird, until next year. I'll be watching for you in the early Spring. Maybe you'll be back to try again—maybe not. Either way you will be a stronger bird I'm sure.
And don't ever give up hope, and trust in a loving Father.
.......I won't if you won't.
Goodbye mother bird.