Dedicated to The Senior Class of 2020
In my little corner of the earth, it will always be a Friday, March the 13th of the year 2020, that will be one to remember for all times. With a mysterious virus looming about that would soon reveal itself as the COVID-19 global pandemic, mamas everywhere could not have known when their seniors walked out of the door that morning they should have snapped a photo, “Last Day of School.”
The world had stopped and school was out forever.
During the pandemic, the biggest plan of any given day was to safely check the mail. To my surprise, on one outing, a wren flew right over my ear. Pleased to know that there was still life “out there” I carried on with retrieving the mail before returning to my inner sanctum. Upon my return, I discovered a nest in my favorite wreath hanging on our red carport door. I had a quarantine visitor.
When Mama Wren was out flying around the town, I sneaked over to the nest via my front glass door. It is also red, with glass that will weather the storm so it lets in amazing light.
Each day, I tip-toed to peer into the nest and saw her speckled eggs. I am confident my neighbors wondered what was going on as they all sat on their porches and watched me tip-toeing from one door to the next.
One day I opened the wrong door and Mama bird got into the house. She didn’t belong here. My son walked in to find me chasing her. When I told him that we had a visitor he was six-foot-two of chicken.
After several hours of striving, I turned out all the lights and got completely still. Mama Wren flew right into the light of the open glass door. I was able to assist her safely outside where she could find her way again.
The next day I was curious about the eggs and found Mama Wren in the nest as she sized me up. For a brief moment she looked right into my soul.
The baby birds arrived on Easter Sunday. Four little mouths open to the sky seemed to sing, “He is risen indeed!” Every now and then I could spot Mama bringing in a worm from the yard and witness the beauty of her provision from nature. As the little ones got fatter, I was delighted to see there were actually five fledglings!
Before long, I felt like they were in the teenager stage. They began to simultaneously shriek with fear of my human nearness. Even though they were sleeping on the edge of the nest, once they noticed me, they went deep into their room like regular teenage cave-dwellers.
One morning, I thought about getting a new photo and decided not to. Later, during my midday visit the most unexpected emptiness overtook me as I found the nest completely empty. They were gone. I didn’t know it would be my last chance to take a photo. I recalled the words of my friend Mary when I first told her I had a nest in my wreath. “You stay away until the babies leave then you throw the nest away.” At that moment, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony.
Days passed and I continued to check the nest just to make sure. I went outside before daylight in hopes that I could catch my birdies returning for a visit. But they never did. Instead, I heard this overpowering song from the adjacent trees.
How many things had I taken for granted before without realizing how beautiful my seemingly average yard is and how many gorgeous birds visit me daily? I started paying more attention to a music that I had never heard before. Even though the entire world was stilled, their song had not stopped. They did neither labor nor spin into a panic.
At the onset of the pandemic, we senior mamas never knew we were witnessing the last day of school. Just like the birds, our young were suddenly free to fly. We were counting on our Mama tears scheduled on our Mama calendars. We had unsent graduation invites, caterers planned, and trips that had to be canceled. In true millennial fashion, they went out in their own style and made light of it by posing in caps and gowns with PPE. We hope to God they will continue to choose the right doors and walk in the light of God.
We Mamas grieve together and our older friends remind us there will be a “next”. I was hoping my next would not be the pet lizard God sent me to remind me that he will provide. I was hoping it was just his sense of humor helping me to laugh at the things to come.
Alas, it wasn’t long before I sunk my teeth into a home project. I salvaged five French doors from a 1920s crumbling home that had once been stately. In the moving process of bringing them through the carport door, the wreath with the beloved empty nest was knocked to the ground.
After the movers left, I thought, “That old thing again?” I went outside still wearing my work gloves and picked up the wreath, shaking it just hard enough in the yard to flick all those old sticks away. The nest was no more. It was just as Mary had said.
I walked inside, discarded the gloves, and fixed myself a glass of lemonade. “Now whatever am I going to do with these doors?” I wondered. I don’t really know. But something. Yes, I’ll do something.
I have learned that it’s not the how, what, or when, but the Who, the Constant. We have a God that is the Ancient of Days who knows the very number of hairs on our heads. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He cares for the birds, how much more will He care for you and for your sons who are like arrows in the skillful hands of a warrior? He is the door. The Gate. You will hear a voice behind you saying: “This is the way; walk in it.” And when you trust God to let Him guide the future, you will further understand the doors of this earthly life and treasure all the places they will lead you, your children, and your children’s children.