As I sit in my office and gaze upon the beauty outside my window, I have observed many things. On occasion a hummingbird will dash into view, his iridescent wings catching the light as he stares at me for one, brief, lightning moment. More frequently a proud cardinal will perch upon a cedar branch like a king upon his throne. He clearly feels he owns my backyard and is intent upon showing off his domain to me; the glass between us giving him more courage than he would otherwise display. The squirrels, who seem to flaunt a lack of worth ethic, play like children in a school yard as they dash up one tree and out onto impossibly thin branches that quiver in response to gravity's gentle laws. Their tails twitch like the nervous brow of a wary store keeper, eying a teenager from a hidden stool.
However, the most interesting visitor has been a small finch, who, until recently was feathering his nest neatly inside the edge of my rain gutter not 3 feet from my desk. He visits this chosen site with earnest, instinct driving him to create a place to call home, and to hide from the hawks that hover above the oak canopy stretching out over his precarious saucer of sticks.
As of today, though, things have changed. His visits are frenetic and short. He buzzes like a nervous mother, checking in disbelief to find that all is lost because his home is gone. Why? Yesterday we removed all the debris that lay fermenting and bulging inside the trough. A place he thought he alone possessed. It is now, sad to say, clean and shiny. The roof shingles swept clean of needles. His evidence of toil and passion gone. I think about how we all feel in today's uneasy economy.
So many things are unstable or vanish without a trace and we return to find things taken from us, much like this finch. For awhile, our behavior is rather like his as we fly to and fro worrying and carrying on about something else that has slipped through our fingers; something that we worked so hard to create dashed against the rocks of fate. We use these episodes as evidence that we are doomed, cursed or nearly at the "end of our rope."
In the midst of the mourning and discarding of lost hopes, I wonder, if we could or would see these tragedies as only a transition, instead of a pronouncement of the end, if we might discover new horizons that have been waiting to be uncovered. I ask myself if my own eyes are open to the possibilities that even tragedy can bring. How will I move on without being tempted to nurture my scars and show them off to others seeking sympathy and a shared sorrow?
It seems the bird understands this. By the afternoon hour, not long after his tragic loss, he revisits the location for a very different reason. I know because I saw the splash. I even thought I saw his feathers curled up in euphoria, his beak wryly showing signs of contentment. For in place of the mud and soil was a small pool of clean water; the remnant of a rainstorm caught in a low buckle at the end of the aluminum tube. He had found a spot to bathe and frolic. This very spot where he planned to raise a family or at least rest his wings, was now a playground. A place of joy. And he was happy.
For now at least, I will remember this moment and how it feels. Perhaps I will tie a feather to my lamp so I am reminded that when some things are swept away, it is up to us to discover the joy that can be found in what replaces it. For if there is one thing certain in life, it is the fact that there is always more. What that 'more' is, is up to you and how far you will fly to find it.