Lately I’ve been taking longer walks and noticing the birds in a flurry of activity with their birdsong on the morning breeze. Bluebirds fly over making quick jaunts across the street from one tree to another. I wondered if any had made nests in the two bluebird houses my brother-in-law put up for me last year. That was when I developed a fascination for the little creatures, drawn to their deep blue feathers and russet breast and charmed by their nickname, “Harbingers of Happiness.”
In these unusual days of the COVID-19 pandemic, my eyes search for beauty as I walk through the unusual quiet of the neighborhood. Now there are few cars leaving for work and no school buses passing through with their load of noisy students. The sight of the morning light on the bluebirds brings me a burst of joy that is less frequent these days with so many anxiety-producing images on the news.
A couple of weeks ago, I checked the bluebird house in my backyard and found four blue eggs. I waited for a week and then returned, wondering what stage of development I’d find. Instead of baby birds, I found a snake. I snapped the box shut and took off, scared and angry the snake had taken the eggs, the possibility of four baby birds.
Last Friday when my grandson was leaving, we were walking by my front yard bluebird house and he pointed to it and said,”Eggs.” He wanted me to check the house. After my snake experience, I was afraid to look in the box while trying to hold Baker. I handed him to my daughter-in-law. They stood back while I checked. Inside was the beginning of a nest built of straw and downy materials, a messy start to a new home of a sparrow. It was safe for me to show Baker.
I was relieved there was no snake but disappointed that the bluebirds had been beaten out of that spot. I cleaned out the box and hoped to dissuade non-bluebirds from building another nest. Even the small thing of wanting bluebirds had been thwarted.
Now is a time when the pandemic has made us acutely aware of an enemy we have no control over; a virus which we have no history of attacking through vaccine or medical technology. We wonder how long we’ll be isolating ourselves from others, maintaining social distance and held up in our homes. We worry about those on the front lines of healthcare and those providing services that are essential and also have risks.
For each of us, this pandemic has hit when we already had challenges we were dealing with– for some it’s fighting cancer, or managing a chronic illness whether that’s physical or mental. For me, the pandemic has hit when I, along with many others–including my new friends in my DivorceCare group, are dealing with the isolation of separation from our spouses.
Recently I heard a song by country singer, Miranda Lambert entitled “Bluebird.” What I liked the most were the final two lines of the chorus:
I’ll Keep the Light on In My Soul
And a Bluebird in My Heart
I couldn’t get those lines out of my head, churning them over and over and thinking about their meaning.
I thought about how our soul is the centermost part of our being; where God’s truth resides and God’s light shines forth. For me, that light within keeps me grounded no matter what is happening. “To Keep the Light on in My Soul” is to stay connected to the God who created and sustains me. The light is constant and shines the way onto my path that must go forward no matter my personal struggle or the one we’re all facing. In God, the Light of the World, there is no darkness.
In thinking about a “Bluebird in My Heart,” I’m reminded that in times of excitement a human heart can flutter, like a bluebird’s wing. Anything I associate with my heart, my center of emotions, has to do with excitement and a passion for living. Beyond the deep concern for the essential matters with this pandemic, life has felt ‘flat’ without the thing in my life that I love with a passion–dancing. We all have the things in life that bring us happiness and some of them we’re unable to do at this time.
On Friday after I cleaned out the front birdhouse, I thought I should check back to see what had happened to the one the snake had taken over. I was armed with a wooden pole in case the snake was still there. I saw pine straw sticking out from the bottom of the house and was hopeful– since bluebirds build neat nest with mostly pine needles and grasses.
I shined my flash light into the house to be sure of what I was seeing. Hunkered down on the nest, ‘sheltering in place,’ was a mother bluebird. I spoke to her and gently closed the door, happy that for now there was the promise of new birds on the way– a small bit of hope that had not yet been interrupted.
Eventually, after the pandemic, our lives will go back to normal– but changed forever. There will be fun times again when we’re not so worried about keeping a distance and when I can return to my ‘social dancing’ with nights of swing and Texas 2-step. And those “Harbingers of Happiness,” those bluebirds that are under the sheltering wings of their mother right now, will become fledglings and will leave their nest.
Then they will be the new bluebirds in the beauty of the morning light.
How about You?
During this time, what are the areas of your life where you feel ‘flat’ and are missing a former happiness?
What helps you to be hopeful about the future?