Issue Date: August 12, 2005
By JAMES STEPHEN BEHRENS
She is a mourning dove and she built her nest in the spring. I watched with fascination as she wove her nest. How did she know which branches to take? And which to discard? How did she know how deep to make the nest and where to place it so that it was safe?
She sat in her finished nest for weeks. I never saw her leave it. One day, I saw tufts of feathers beneath hers. Later I saw two baby birds, each no bigger than my thumb. The mother kept food in her mouth and when she opened her mouth, she regurgitated the food and the little babies knew how to feed from her.
I looked every day and the babies grew fast. We looked at each other a lot. One day the nest was empty and I saw the two chicks on the ground. They stayed there for several days -- the mother fed them there. And then one day, they were gone. They had taken flight, I am sure, since I have seen it before.
It was not long before she was back on the nest, and I watched the cycle again all through July, from her nesting the eggs to the babies growing and flying away.
Now it is August and she is back in the nest, sitting on new eggs. We gaze at each other every day. Her nest is in a tree, in our cloister, not at all far from where we praise God and all God has made. Our chants go heavenward and when we chant the melodies of the psalms that I have grown to love, I sometimes think of the baby birds that were given a kind of love, care and wisdom that flies as well toward the Creator.
We humans may not have wings, but we have ways of learning how to achieve heights with acts of kindness, words of beauty, and gestures of love. We have been fed by God for a reason, so that we may one day take flight with the confidence that comes from knowing that we are loved and have the ability to share it.
Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.
National Catholic Reporter, August 12, 2005
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