A visit to my brother out west turned into a uniquely memorable one a few years ago.
It was June and we sat on the patio in the mornings and the evenings. The coolness of the morning desert is special and the evening glow as twilight descends is marvelous.
A bird had built its nest on the ledge above one of the columns that supported the roof over the patio, and now the two parents were busy teaching their young to fly. There were four young ones. Three of them were learning what birds are supposed to learn, flapping their little wings, leaving the nest and flying about the patio. The third however appeared to be smaller than its brothers or sisters. It stayed in the nest and took no part in the lessons. Needless to say, we watched from inside the house while the birds were doing their thing.
One evening as darkness closed in the smaller bird decided to try its wings and dropped from the nest onto the patio floor. However, it couldn’t fly back up into the nest. We put a chair over it for safety’s sake before we entered the house for the night.
Every time I woke during the night I prayed that the bird would be safe from the cat next door.
In the morning a strong wind was blowing and the young bird was not on the porch. But from deep in the nest I heard a chirrup and a head raised up. It had succeeded in getting back home during the night. All the rest of the family were absent. The mother bird appeared in an hour or so with food and then left. The father did not come back nor did the other three young ones.
Sometime that morning the young one ventured from the nest, sat on the fence and then fluttered away. It had found its wings. The mother bird returned a short time later, looked in the nest, sat down on it a few moments, and then left.
In the latter hours of the morning my sister-in-law and I were in the dining room and looked through the window at four little birds lined up on the top of the wooden lattice used as a flowering vine support.
It seemed as if they came to say goodbye to their home and, just maybe, to us. After five minutes or so they flew away together and did not reappear again. Later in the day I saw two young birds surfing on the crest of the strong wind. Up and down, over and over, they rode on the currents of the air with joyous out spread wings.
The unfolding drama of the birds during my week’s visit left me with a sense of reverence; a privilege granted in the realization of the holiness of life.