We are happy to host each spring a returning family of Barn Swallows. They’ve commandeered the tiny ledge which presents itself from under the fascia atop the westernmost column on our front porch. At first, Rory pulled their little nest down but when they quickly and industriously rebuilt, he just couldn’t bear to cause them the work and the worry a second time.
They return each and every spring and hatch two little families, back-to-back. This year a little Sparrow thought to nest there but when Mr. and Mrs. Swallow returned, the sparrow disappeared and her one youngling was, thankfully, old enough to take wing after only a day on the porch ledge. The Swallows, which apparently mate for life and raise their young together, moved right back into their summer home, added another level of mud about the top of their little love nest and had a fine brood of four. They are now on their second family so, once again, The Brick will tenderly lift our preschool grandson onto his shoulders to introduce him to the eggs, and then again to greet the wide-mouthed babies in the nest. It is a ritual.
For weeks, the parents sweep the length of our porch many times during the bright spring days bringing sustenance to their young. The dogs are swooped at and we are swooped at whenever the vicinity of the nest is ‘invaded.’ They are never violent but they can be pretty insistent and can, at times, whiz through the air close enough so that you hear the wind whistle through their lovely blue wings and even feel the wind-wake from their passing on your cheek or neck. Then the day comes when the gorgeous young show their red-throated, feathered finery as they line up on the edge of the nest for their flight lessons. We know then that it won’t be long before the lovely babies will no longer keep us company on the porch.
The Barn Swallow is a great insect eater and we HOPE that the growing numbers of these lovely birds on our property are gobbling up great hoards of mosquitoes and other offensive biters. In the evenings, we enjoy to see the Barn Swallow population out swooping to and fro getting their dinner. Their populace grows each year and we are delighted to see greater numbers of the lovely little birds enjoying their summers here at Avignon.
After the last batch of babies, the nest is abandoned and Rory gets out the pressure washer and cleans the column and we spend the rest of the balmy summer watching the hatchlings catch up to the adults in size as they sweep the colorful evening skies.
This is my ode to the Barn Swallow for the enjoyment it has brought to Avignon and the inhabitants here. My grandmother just loved little birds and she passed this torch to me, I guess. The bird is a lovely, lithe creation, which brings décor, song, and the dream of flight to life on this earth. They are God’s gift to this sometimes-weary world. Why don’t you take a chair out tonight or sit at your window tomorrow and get to know your own birdie populace? Enjoy your birds. Receive the gift they have to give you.
Our only grandchild graduated from our church’s preschool program this past Sunday evening. It was only yesterday that his Mommy had graduated from kindergarten. It was deja vu times two.
Each class did a little skit in their ‘civies’ clothes first. They sang their favorite songs they’d learned with their teachers during the school year. The teacher of each class sat in front of the platform in a school chair while their little charges performed so that they could mouth the words and lead the choreography for those who were too excited or too shy to be able to remember their little ditties.
The bows were resplendent and plentiful in the little girls’ hair. My grandson, with his eight-or-so cowlicks, was almost unrecognizable with his carefully styled hair. All the little faces were fresh and bright; their happy eyes sparkled as they shared so eagerly and proudly what they’d learned, their focus all on their teacher.
After the entertainment, these tiny scholars donned their white caps and gowns and re-entered the sanctuary, walking the aisle to the de rigueur Pomp and Circumstance. Again, each teacher led her small charges through the traditional claiming of the diploma, retiring afterward with her respective class to make way for the next teacher and her group. As their name was called by their teacher, each small body crossed the stage and was awarded the afore mentioned diploma. Teacher changed their tassel, then guided each one as they shifted to the microphone to say their own name in full. Again, all focus on Teacher.
All of the teachers were proud of their wee humans and some were visibly moved as they absorbed, once again, the fact that another set of lives had passed through her class, her training, and her heart. Then each little soul bashfully or joyfully turned their attention and their face from Teacher, stomped off the platform and into the future.
My grand baby’s teacher was one of those who was visibly moved. Our grandson will remember his teacher. He adores her. She has an energy which she gives to her students that can only be fueled by the love of children and the joy of working with that which you love. She made his year of learning fun and exciting and adventurous.
We are grateful that his relationship with his teacher will not end now that his time under her tutelage at preschool has spent itself. She teaches him at church. He sits with her on Sunday mornings while we sing in choir. I truly am grateful. Too many times the ones who have helped us to train and to mold who and what our wee ones will become are lost in the fog of the past.
Take a moment and ask a special blessing for those who had a part in shaping you. They left pieces of themselves in our makeup, whether we realize it or not. We stomped off into our futures never seeing or realizing the joy/sorrow our teachers knew as they watched us go.
I am asking a special blessing for all the fine teachers of our preschool and especially for the two teachers who gave our grand baby two wonderful years to build upon. This foundation is set. It is HIS foundation for the rest of his life, whether he realizes it or not.
I think that I’ll try to see to it that he does realize it and that he is aware of the two hearts he’s left behind.
My daughter and I were blessed to have had the opportunity to attend an outdoor wedding held upon the Legislative Plaza in Nashville this past Saturday. WHAT a lovely and happy event it was. It was truly a celebration of marriage. The officiating pastor was a warm, witty man who performed the ceremony with a wonderfully fresh, candid style which only added to the sophistication and charm of the event.
I was particularly touched by an illustration he used as a prelude to the vows between the obviously joyful bride and groom. This story, as I remember it, is what I want to share with you now and I hope that it gives you a time for meaningful pause as it did for me.
There once was a Rabbi who was called upon to perform a wedding ceremony for a young couple who wished to be married outdoors. Knowing that the bride was somewhat inclined to have a rather hysterical personality, this gave him some concern for the health of both the wedding and the marriage. So, when the bride came to him to talk over the upcoming ceremony, he chose his words carefully.
She asked him, “You’ve been talking to God about the ceremony?”
“I’ve been talking to God about the ceremony,” he replied.
“And,” she questioned, “you’ve asked that it not rain?”
Again he replied, “I’ve asked that it not rain.”
“And God has told you that it won’t rain on my wedding?” the worried bride queried.
The wise Rabbi replied, “No, but God has assured me that you WILL be married by the end of your ceremony, whether rain or shine.”
The days passed and the day for the marriage arrived. The day was sunny, the weather perfect. As he opened the ceremony, the Rabbi addressed the couple with words he hoped God would use to bring stability to the union for the nervous bride as she journeyed through life with her chosen mate.
Looking directly into her upturned face, the Rabbi asked her, “Where is the groom?”
In shock she whirled to the man standing to her right. Working hard to see through her veil, she carefully checked the identity of the man she saw there. She then answered in disbelief, “Why, he’s right here, Rabbi.”
The Rabbi questioned her closely, “Are you sure?” to which she answered in the affirmative.
“So, you think that you know him?” the Rabbi questioned. “Do you know his secret dreams? His secret fears? The things which keep him awake at night? Do you know who he’ll be a year from now? A decade from now?”
The young bride answered in a small, worried voice, “I…I think so…”
The Rabbi turned to the groom, “And do you know this woman who stands at your side? Do you really know her? Do you know her secret dreams? Her secret fears? The things which keep her awake at night? Do you know who she’ll be a year from now? A decade from now?”
With uncertainty, the groom answered, “I believe that I do, yes.”
The Rabbi then produced a smallish, lovely mirror from his pocket, held it before the bride so that she could see her reflection and asked her gently, closely, “Do you know this woman? Do you truly know this woman? Do you know her secret dreams? Her secret fears? The things which keep her awake at night? Do you know who she’ll be a year from now? A decade from now?”
The uncertain bride had no answer to give the wise cleric. He turned to the groom, held the mirror before him and asked, “And you…do you truly know this man you now behold in the mirror? His dreams? His fears? What keeps him awake at night? Who he’ll be in a year? In a decade?” Likewise, the groom had no answer to offer.
After a long pause to let these thoughts sink into the minds of the couple, the gentle Rabbi told them, “Turn; look into the eyes of your beloved. Look deeply there…look deeply there because when the storms and the rains come, it is there you will find shelter. When your soul feels homeless, there you will find your home. In crisis, you will find peace; in sorrow, you will find comfort; in disappointment, you will find hope. When you feel unloved, there you will find love and there in this ever-changing world, in your beloved’s eyes, you will find yourself.”
What a lesson! What a wonderful analogy to illustrate what the marriage union is to be. It is about losing oneself and becoming one. It is about living for another’s dreams instead of your own.
What a wonderful illustration about our relationship with God and what it should be.