I realize that my last post was about baby birds and that this one will be, too. It’s just that time of year. Everywhere I go, I see and hear birds and their babies. It’s quite sweet. This morning, during a walk around the pond at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, I was treated to sightings (and sounds) of a dozen or more types of bird, from robins, swallows, and wrens to red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, and cardinals. Add a few great blue herons, several dozen turtles of various species, two groundhogs, and a wild turkey and I’d call it an active morning, indeed.
One thing that I love about spring and summer is the opportunity to bear witness to the natural world in a period of intense action: turtles mating, birds nesting, fish jumping in the stream, frogs returning to the pond, grasses regaining their bright green hue, leaves unfolding into immense grandeur…and me in the middle of it all, just observing. It does my spirit SO good to be a part of it in some small way.
Last evening, in the tranquility of the graveyard at my church and during a gentle rain, I was blessed to see an adult robin teaching a young one how to fly. The pair caught my eye because their movements were distinctly different: the adult, with her recognizable pattern of plumage, was graceful as she lifted off from a tree branch, flapped her wings a few times, and coasted to an easy stop on a gravestone. The young one, whose charcoal gray downy feathers made him look plump, almost appeared to get a running start before jumping, flapping his wings awkwardly and frantically as he descended towards the ground before finally figuring it out and rising up again to come to a screeching halt next to the adult on the stone. It made me laugh out loud.
I continued to watch with awe and wonder: this time, the adult bird chirped and next thing I knew the young one was flying from the gravestone to another tree branch — without her lead and taking a slightly longer journey this time. He continued to get the hang of it, taking ever longer trips from object to object, while the adult robin followed him either with her eyes, or occasionally flying to wherever he landed.
My mind immediately wandered to the times in my life when I had to learn how to “fly” — whether learning how to forgive myself, using a new tool in my recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder, gaining assertiveness skills, or practicing spiritual awareness. Like learning to fly, each of these things were developed over time, and required the guidance and support of someone more experienced, be it a parent, a friend, a counselor, or a pastor. It struck me as important to note that the young robin wasn’t alone on his brief journeys. He may have felt like he was — the adult was not always flying with him — but he was being watched and if he had fallen, the adult would have done whatever she could to encourage him to get back up.
Is there a young, as-yet-unnurtured, part of you that needs to learn how to fly? Who could you turn to for support as you increase your courage and take that first leap into the air?
Peace, joy, and health.