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Robin Redux…the Update

Back on April 10, I wrote this…

That robin is back again this Spring…building her nest in the low bush outside my window. She may not remember…but I do…that Spring some years ago when we went down this road together before. She was more than herself to me that year…that nest more than her own: she was a symbol of my optimism, the manifestation of my belief I could pray or will things to be so. Anyway, we were partners in productive joy that year…both…anticipating….expecting…on the cusp of Dreams. I should remind her that it ended badly for both of shells scattered on the ground…hearts broken. But she’s back and darn busy out there..seemingly no time or interest to listen.

The window is in a part of the house I can avoid. Part of me wants to do just that. I don’t want to take her on again. I don’t want to take ME on again. I want to quote Teasdale to her…the mantra that came to signify that April to me…

“It was a Spring that never came….but we have lived enough to know

That WHAT WE NEVER HAVE…remains.

It is the things we HAVE…that go.”

Hey, Robin! Yeah, you!

She’s too busy…not listening…or ignoring me.

I want to tell her what I’ve learned in the years since our last team effort.

I’ve learned that we can spend so much time tending to our Dreams…to every green shoot and beginning bud…that Real Days get lost in the process. Real Days that have a beauty, purpose, joy…just in and of their average self. I’ve learned Dreams can become so tangled and overgrown that we can no longer see the real people we love whom they obscure. I’ve learned that decaying old dreams can become Fears. Those fears can grow and thicken and mat until no new sunlight can get in.

And I’ve learned disposing of dead, old dreams is an arduous and painful effort.

I know all that now. I’d like to tell her all that if she would take a minute off from hauling twigs into that bush.

That bush is too low.

I may be wiser these years later but evidently she is not. She’s learned nothing.

Listen here…I tap my advice on the window…once you uproot, and burn, and clear out the Old Dreams…everything looks so wide open and fresh. Suddenly you might see new opportunities…like high up in those treetops. You start to see each day as a DAY…to be filled in a myriad of satisfying ways. You see Love over there where it already exists. You find Joy in the brief moment. And as the poet says, you embrace…”Splendor in the grass; glory in the flower.”

Give it up already. I don’t want to go through this with you again. Take your low-hanging, perilous nest elsewhere.

But my Robin resists my advice. Persists in her endeavor.Twig after twig, intent on her effort, invested in her new dream.

Maybe she’s replying in her own way. A gentle rebuke.

Don’t stop dreaming altogether.

Keep working.

Keep “building.”

Have faith.

With a sigh, I take my teacup and my protective heart to another room.

We’ll see….”



One sad day, weeks later, as we were leaving on a trip…I heard some commotion. It wasn’t good news. My husband said he’d remove that nest as soon as we got home. He blamed not Fate but poor construction, poor site management. He knows what my poet-mind is thinking…and he will employ his engineering rhetoric to help me move along.

But he forgot. And I didn’t remind him.

This week, I saw some fluttering outside another window… the kitchen window. And I saw this:

Okay, maybe it’s not the same bird. But from the beginning this had been about much more than robins to me.

It’s a message.

It’s joyful.

I’m hopeful.

It’s all good.

3 Responses

  1. The message of the robin is one of enduring hope and optimism. Sometimes, it is hard, to give those two sway. And yes, there are times when they can be crushed, and crushed in such a way that one must accept finality (I have experienced such a situation most recently) though, is think there always is a smidgen of hope that manages to retain a slight glimmer – it is that flickering illumination that prompts one to try yet again. Only death is permanent – but in a way, even the grim reaper, once he has moved on, cannot erase memories which slowly (as time, space, the depth of grief, and a willingness to let them come around) provide their own hopefulness and optimism that tomorrow will be a little brighter day.

  2. “Only death is permanent – but in a way, even the grim reaper, once he has moved on, cannot erase memories which slowly (as time, space, the depth of grief, and a willingness to let them come around) provide their own hopefulness and optimism that tomorrow will be a little brighter day.”

    Today is the one year anniversary of a dear friend’s Dad’s death. We were speaking of much the same things this morning. After a period of mourning, where there can be pain and awkwardness at mentioning the lost loved one…there comes a stage where he or she is integrated back into our lives…in a way still influencing our lives, still bringing joy to our lives. That continuity is like a small reunion. …regaining a little of what was lost.

    I’m thinking that this new nest is like that title “Surprised by Joy.” Maybe the message to me is not to forget to look for Hope in unexpected places.

    Did you see their little beaks? They are getting big!

  3. It is important to let the departed back into our daily lives. It seems to me that it is a part of the healing process. I have always loved the big Irish wakes for that reason. The newly departed remembered (both good and bad) for the person he was and the role he played in the lives of those present and departed.

    I have always loved reading the obituaries in the newspaper. There has been, as I age, the short thankful prayer that my name is not emblazoned in the daily column. (This I told my youngest son this morning as he commented that reading obituaries was rather creepy). But there is more to it than that – I enjoy reading about people – how they were important to their loved ones – their interests – why they remained single or were married so many times. How did their children scatter to the four winds? What brought them to this community – far from where they were born or educated. I find the names that people have interesting. The very elderly that pass have names that evoke a different age (Ruby, Eulalie, Everett, Martin, just to name a few from today’s column).

    When I was in college, the paper in the town where the college was located went out on strike. People relied on the radio for news of the sort that they would never see on television. At two every afternoon, the local obituaries were read by a particularly mellifluous broadcaster. Though it was the standard obituary, his rendition made the newly departed someone with whom you regretted not having had ever crossed paths. I thought at the time, how reassuring to those left behind his reading must have been – that their loved one was remembered in such a way. If one is remembered, then one really never dies.

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