Empty Nest

Baby birdThey chirped all weekend. There was fluttering and noise; foreshadowing a secret, impending move. I didn’t know. The only clue I had was that one little intrepid baby had hopped out of the confines of the nest; she was loudly balking at her siblings and I said “way to go girl, look at you!” and carried the groceries into the house.

The next morning, the nest was quiet. The nest was empty. 

I didn’t know, until I knew.

I felt some grief at the loss of this little family who had chosen our home to make theirs. I was captivated by the mama and her ability to create this perfect little round space for her babies. And that she just knew how to do it. There was no playbook for her either. I felt a kinship as she worked so hard on the nest, then sat on her eggs, eventually flying back and forth over and over and over with bugs and worms for them. She seemed tireless– and just somehow knew to do the thing they needed. The daddy bird came back once they were born and from what I could tell, mostly squawked and clung to the side of the garage, but that could be my judgement on nature’s decision. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it from a distance. (Get them some damn worms too man!)

That same day, I read this incredible quote that will sit at the beginning of the newest book by one of my faves, Jen Hatmaker, shared on her FB page.

“Many people between the ages of thirty and sixty – whatever their stature in the community and whatever their personal achievements – undergo what can truly be called a second journey. The second journey begins when we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.” ~ Brennan Manning

Now, when it comes to Carolina Wrens, their morning and afternoon seasons are quick. They live like 2 years, tops, if everything goes according to plan. Their seasons are forever on fast-forward. (Yes, that’s a thing from before when we were young and dinosaurs roamed this great land; it was a called a V-C-R; look it up.) So I get why mama wasted NO TIME; and I get why one day they were there and the very next, gone.

What struck me most about the Manning quote was the “when we cannot“; not when we “choose” or when we “realize” but when something inside of us just simply stops being able to. It’s instinct; it’s evolution; it’s IN us. Like the little wrens and their sudden departure. It wasn’t a choice– they simply could not. They probably could have squeezed their sweet little fluffy butts in that nest for a few more days; enjoying the warmth of the familiar, even if it was growing very uncomfortable. But they could not. So they moved on.

I kept looking for signs of our shared grief. Did she leave a thank you? Will she come back for a night to rest in her nest before moving on? Even the little shells were disposed of. Mama wren apparently knows very well how to draw the line between her morning and afternoon programs. Sister is squarely out into her second journey; and I hope it’s a smooth one.

As for me, I too know, by just knowing, that I am into my second journey. I am not even a little bit who I was before because I am making choices based on my deeply entrenched gut instinct and feeling really confident in that. I cannot live further putting myself last. I cannot live further making myself and my kiddos so BUSY we don’t have time to realize what’s missing. I cannot live further saying it doesn’t hurt that I lost a marriage but gained a me. I cannot live further making a thousand excuses as to why I shouldn’t just write a damn book. I cannot live further without exploring the confines of my heart. I cannot live further without being weird, silly, devoted, sarcastic yet fiercely kind. I cannot live further not being just exactly me.

Good afternoon dear friends.





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