Message in a Bottle #2
Today I watched the last fledgling in a family of robins leave the nest. Her two siblings had both gone the previous day, but here she was the next morning, still waiting. For what? The right moment? Maybe. Because the end to this tale is a happy one and she did fly away. In her own time. In her own way. But I watched her for over an hour, as she vacillated from, “Yes! I’ll do it,” to, “No... here is fine. Here is safe,” over and over again, before she did. Back and forth, out onto the ledge and back inside the nest. I could see her fear. The anxious puffing and stretching of wing and legs. This bird’s inner monologue was almost loud enough to hear. The jump would be big for one so small, and there would be no going back once she did. The parents had stopped bringing food. I supposed this was their way of forcing the jump. They squawked and cheeped at her and she cried back, but she was just as stubborn to stay as they were for her to come down. I watched in anticipation, knowing if she just jumped, all that mounting fear, the crippling anxiety of being left behind, the hunger... Would be over. It’s that ripping off of a bandaid moment when you realize after all your fretting that, “Oh... Oh wow. This isn’t so bad after all.” The world was waiting for her. Wind was calling her to stretch her wings into its embrace. Then the parents came back. They started to feed her again. And she settled down into the nest. My heart fell in disappointment, realizing this could take all day, now that her stomach wasn’t growling anymore. But then something different happened. I think between both adults, they fed her a total of four more times and each time, she got bolder with her hops onto the ledge and back. The nurturing and food didn’t coddle her; it gave her the strength and confidence she needed to take flight. And she did! Jumping finally with her last goodbye to full dependency, she flew free. But while still watching her wait and wait, maybe for something to change in her own mind, I began to imagine what it would be like if a bird never left the nest, but continued to be fed by its parents. Would it still grow? Of course. But would it ever get strong? I thought of it filling up the nest with its adult body, big, beautiful wings hanging limp at its sides, never taught the strength they’re capable of. Useless. And yet it was born with them. Born with wings, but never using them to take to the sky... How many tragic life stories does that describe in the history of the earth? I don't want it to describe mine. I don’t want it to describe yours. Everybody moves at their own pace. I believe this with my whole heart. But I also believe we can pass up many chances when we should have jumped. Fear keeps us in the nest, in our comfort zones, and comfort is really, really nice. But you know what? When that baby bird left the nest, it was the first time in her little life that she had ever felt sunshine on her face. Her nest was in the shade. She had never had a clear view of the sky, had never known what it was to roam free. And I believe— no, I know for a fact we can have those things too, if we accept the help from those wanting to give us strength and confidence, if we accept the One who is our strength and confidence. Don’t let fear keep you in a comfy nest when freedom is only one exhilarating leap of faith away.