I’m not sure what caused the tears to immediately well in my eyes the moment I stepped outside to let our dog out this morning. It’s a Snow Day ~ our first of the school year. I kept repeating, “Snow, Moz! See the snow? It’s snowing!” I smiled as I watched her scamper around the yard, as snow collected on her fur and snout. As I stood huddled in a cozy fleece blanket while snow collected on my bare flip-flopped toes, I leaned against the brick of our house and just gazed out over the yard. So beautiful. So peaceful. So calm.
The sound of snow.
It has a sound, you understand. There’s nothing quite like it. But soon I became surprised by the tears that had formed in my eyes. A minute later, the tears began to actually stream down my face and neck. Silent tears, with no sound from my mouth. But I know those tears have their own silent sound, much like the snow. Where is this coming from, I wondered.
The tears felt good even though I wasn’t sure of their purpose.
Then the thought that must have been building in my head quickly moved down to my heart.
The first snow since Dad died.
Why did this have to pop in and disrupt my peace? Why does it matter that this is the first snow since Dad died? Was it memories of childhood and snowy days on the hill in our woods? When will these firsts ever stop coming? How long until that day arrives? Surprised by the tears still coming, I just let them flow while I looked around the yard.
Then I noticed the stump across the creek.
And the barren branches of the yellow forsythia, now being dressed in white.
And the long-since-abandoned robin’s nest way up in the tree branches beside our deck.
In my five months of silence In The Messy, it is one of the stories I had wanted to share.
I had come home one day back in July — following a gusty rainstorm — and found a soaked baby robin crouched beneath the ledge of our deck stair. He appeared frightened, and I knew he had been blown from his nest. I set the grocery bags onto the wet deck and began searching for his nest, for his mother. Just around the corner, I found the nest …completely in tact. Telling the bird I’d be right back (yes, I did), I took the groceries inside and began googling. Turns out if you place the nest back into the branches of a tree, the mother bird will find the baby and return to take care of her. I knew Mark was returning soon from a business trip, so I let him know the plans I had for him when he got home.
Mark arrived home and began building a temporary home for the robin’s nest. Taking cedar planks that we had for grilling, he built a support for the nest and tucked it securely into place. I gently scooped the baby bird, and handed it up the ladder to Mark. There he lay the bird, cradled in its familiar home… but far beneath the branches where it formerly rested.
But as we worked together, there had been a fourth party watching attentively… the mother robin. She had been up in the branches all along, I presume. And when we noticed her presence, I recall a feeling of deep satisfaction and assurance. It is all going to be alright.
“Does she know that we are trying to help her? Does she understand what we are doing?” I had asked Mark earlier.
Yes. She knew.
Days passed, and the mother continued to return to the nest, tending to her baby. I would check on her regularly, and I loved that she was low enough in the branches (much to mother’s dismay, I’m sure) so that I could see her. During this time, the mother began building a new nest, high up in the branches above where this one originally rested. She was preparing for a new brood. Meanwhile her fledgling would stand and fluff her wings often, in preparation for her first flight out of the nest. It happened one day soon after, and I thanked God for the sweet lesson those robins taught us. Beauty indeed comes from the messy, even when we are fearful in our doubt and needing assurance:
It is all going to be alright. Life goes on.
So as I finish this first post after a long hiatus from writing, I am thankful for three minutes of quiet time this morning: a dog who needed to go outside, new snow falling silently but with great sound, and a Peace that surpasses all understand as I am reminded of the many beautiful, messy moments that I have experienced in life.
And despite being surprised by my tears this morning,
I am so thankful they came.
Peace to you and yours in this new year of expectation…
and may you be surprised by tears, as well.
“Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our lives. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is the fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness . . .
But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one shall take away from us.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life