Spring has arrived in the Texas Hill Country, bringing with it a bumper crop of blue bonnets and birds and shades of green we haven’t seen since last April. Oh, and the spring breezes? I’ve never been so grateful for screen doors which allow me to feel them. It’s almost like I’m listening to Spring wake up. I can hardly wait for sunrise every morning to check the greening taking place on gray limbs across the valley. It’s like a new beginning, and new beginnings always bring a bit of anticipation and excitement, and sometimes just a touch of uncertain agitation, bordering on trepidation.
I witnessed it in a fluffy ball of feathers perched on our deck railing. The bird flitted, and it looked like he took a deep breath before he flapped his wings enough to make it to the column just a few feet away. I can’t really say he was perched, it was more like he was hanging on to one of the crosses attached to the column. I quietly watched the baby bird, which I identified as a sparrow only because its parent showed up.
The parent bird (with sparrows, it’s hard to tell male from female) hovered, fluttering around the baby. Perhaps, its display was meant as a warning for me, the voyeur inside the screen door. While the parent circled and nudged, the baby bird stretched its wings and every piece of downy feather on its body, all the while jittering nervously. After a couple of false starts, the young sparrow took flight, with his parent right behind him, and made it all the way to the wall next to the window. He hung on vertically to that wall with the strength of an eagle clutching a trout in its talons. The parent perched above him, and for the first time, I understood the dialect of “Sparrow-ish.” That parent bird said very distinctly, “Great job. Now hang on and rest a bit, and let’s try it again. Don’t be afraid, I’m right here.” It was a few more minutes before they flew away together across the valley. I tried to imagine what that felt like.
In those few minutes of waiting and watching, I thought about empty nests and endings and beginnings. This moment in time was all of that for the mama bird. Her nest was now empty, but still she was protective and encouraging, almost knocking the baby off its perch at one time to help it find its wings. And it truly was a beginning for the baby—the beginning of doing what it was designed to do—fly. That winged little creature was obviously scared and agitated and excited all at the same time.
The bird took flight from his perch on the cross. Now ponder that just a bit . . . isn’t the Cross where we all get our wings? Picture our Father hovering around us, telling potential predators, “This one is mine.” Think about the ways He encourages us to do what He designed us to do. And picture Him swooping under us when we’re about to crash, or perching slightly above us when we’re hanging on for dear life, always reminding us of His presence.
And finally the most beautiful sight of all, flying away together. Now that’s a real beginning . . .