The birdhouse hangs just outside the window of my study. About two months ago, after being home for two weeks watching birds build nests around me, I wondered why they weren’t choosing this sweet home because it seems perfect. It hangs under the eaves of the front porch and feels like it would be a haven from the storms and nearby predators. It protected a few babes last year, so why not this one?
Not knowing anything about nest-building, having never done it myself, I did a quick search and read that birdhouses must be cleaned out after each season. Armed with this new and unverified knowledge, I did just that, shaking out most of last season’s twigs and leaves.
Still, they did not come. One night I decided I must not have cleaned it well enough. So, in the dark, I walked outside and shook out the debris that had not come out the first time. Then I saw it – a blur of a little thing that flew up to the top of the house for safety. A bird!
I felt an unexpected shame for my ignorance, for not waiting until there was light enough to see, for assuming the birds needed my help, and for my impatience. Why had I not called my mother first or asked others who knew about birdhouses? There are often consequences when we don't have all the information.
I felt I had burned down the house that was being built, broken it, and felt an ache each day as I looked out the window at the home without tenants. Would they come back? I wished I could write a note to apologize.
This morning, feeling heavy after watching scenes of my beloved hometown being ravaged, I walked into my study and out of the corner of my eye spotted a flurry of movement. I watched for 45 minutes as the persevering little bird came back, over and over, often with a long twig that he would expertly maneuver to get through the small opening. His skill was impressive, his duty strong, and his big courage to rebuild what I had torn down was inspiring. I hope she likes it, su amor.
Anne Lamott says to write a book one must take it bird by bird. To build a nest a bird must do it twig by twig. We will do it the same way this little bird did – with love and perseverance, brick by brick, stone by stone, and heart by heart.