Monday, May 05, 2008

Parental Instincts

I have several window boxes on my condo balcony where I planted flowers last year. The flowers added a great deal of beauty, making me smile each time I saw them. This year, however, I was a little late in my planting. The flowers did not get planted until last week. I was able to plant flowers in four of the five window boxes. The fifth box, however, is one I cannot currently touch.

You see, a bird chose to make a nest in this box. A mama bird chose this box as the place where she would give birth to her next baby. For the last few weeks, I have watched as this bird has sat and sat and sat in this box. When she went away once, I ran outside to catch a glimpse of the egg. She soon returned and kept sitting on the egg, and I kept watching her. Nothing seemed to be changing. There was nothing new in the window box until Friday morning.

On Friday morning, I noticed that the mama bird had a piece of shell in her mouth. She seemed to be chewing on the shell that once held her baby. Soon, she flew away, and I caught a glimpse if this tiny baby bird. It is the smallest little bird I have ever seen with a body covered with hair. It is amazing, and I feel so privileged to be a part of the process - for her to have selected my balcony as the place to give birth (it shows you how much I use the balcony!).

This process has also made me think a lot about parental instincts and especially the ways in which God, our parent, works.

The mama bird is currently sitting on top of her baby. She has not left the nest once when I have been watching. She is doing whatever she can to protect this little baby. When I open the door to the balcony, her eyes immediately turn to me. When I move by the window in my home that leads to the balcony, she immediately hunkers down, providing the baby with more protection.

I like to believe that God works the same way. I believe that God, the one who is our ultimate mother and father, does whatever God can do to protect us. When God sees something coming our way that could harm us, I believe God's hand of mercy outstretches even further to try to protect us. I believe that God's eyes are always upon us and the things around us. I believe God is always with us - God is always wanting what is best for us, God's children. And, more than anything, God wants to protect us, to keep us from harm.

Yet, just as this mama bird cannot protect the baby from everything, there are times when she has to leave the nest to go get food or drink, so we cannot be protected from everything. We have the gift of choice. Some of the choices we make bring good while others bring harm. There are times when bad things happen despite how much God is with us. We cannot be kept from harm's way at all times. Still, God is with us. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. And this promise is enough to prepare me for the week ahead. I go out into this week knowing that God is with me - that God's hand will never ever leave me.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

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