For all 17 years we have lived in our current home, we’ve had a pair of mourning doves who have nested in the covered entry way to our home, on an upper ledge, not more than six feet from our front door.
I seriously doubt it’s been the same pair of mourning doves; I doubt they live that long.
And this year’s pair—at least the mother—is a different kind of bird altogether.
Though we love the birds and their nests, we never expect a good outcome. We can always count on a mad flutter of wings every time we open the door as both mom and dad birds flee for their lives. And since it’s spring, we’ve learned that the nest never survives a very windy day—a whole array of twigs, eggshells and occasionally baby birds will ultimately “decorate” our front porch.
But as I said, this year’s different.
The nest seems sturdier. Maybe it’s because the mother bird is always sitting on it, holding her home together. Every time we open the door, she’s still there, quietly minding her own business despite our invasion of her space.
So just in time for this most special of all mother birds, we decided to paint our house.
How was this going to work?
We had some stucco-repair folks out, and there was plenty to be repaired around our porch. Then, later last week, one of the painters showed up to power-wash—yes, with a high-powered jet sprayer—the entire exterior of our house.
Jeanie went out and alerted him to our problem—the nest and the mother dove. He said he would be careful, and he was. Nevertheless, he power-washed above and all around the nest and the mother bird. Yes, h_ _ _ and high water came, and that mother dove didn’t budge. I’m sure she got more than a little wet.
The next morning, very early, a crew of painters—six to eight—showed up for the main event. It was all too early for me. I didn’t find out what happened to momma bird and the nest until that afternoon.
Apparently, mother bird wasn’t on the nest when the painters began readying our entry way for painting. And they moved the nest! They found two little baby birds inside. They completed the painting and gently returned the nest to its original site.
I found myself worrying that the two baby birds would now be abandoned. I’ve heard repeatedly through the years that when humans tamper with nests, the parents often abandon both the nest and their young from that time on.
However, this momma bird proved to be different once again. Before the house painters left that day, there she was, firmly entrenched, feathers comforting and protecting her babies. And she’s still there as I write this.
I have a feeling that the outcome of the 2020 Mourning Dove Nesting Adventure is going to be quite different from ever before. Those two very fortunate chicks are going to make it this time. It’s all because they have one fearless mother, whose love and care for those babies nestled under her wings (think of Psalm 91) is willing to weather any and every sort of danger.
When I look up at the mother bird these days, what I see is an exceedingly noble mourning dove; a bird I highly respect and will seek to honor throughout her nesting experience.
I think it’s because she reminds me of a couple other people in my life.
First, this Mother’s Day week, there’s my mother.
You see, my dad was used to a playboy’s lifestyle. Initially, he wasn’t at all interested in having kids. I’m not sure where Mom stood on that issue before she had me. I only knew that they did everything in their power to make sure I didn’t happen. (Yes, Mom sometimes said too much!)
But once she had me, there’s was no separating us. Dad could have complained—and he might have—but there was absolutely nothing—including their marriage—that was going to stand in the way of Virginia Lee being my loving, doting, caring, protecting mother for the rest of her life.
Happily, for him and for me, he quickly got used to the idea.
You really have to have known my mother to understand this. There were times she could be a terror, but never more than when there was a threat to our welfare. There was that mourning dove’s same sort of fearlessness—actually, fierceness—in her love for me and my sister. Nobody, not nobody, no matter who they were, were ever going to violate her care, her provision and her protection of us two, and if they did, it would be over her dead, and still contending, body.
Then there’s Jeanie, the mother of our three children. Whenever she’s called upon for an alternative identifier, guess what her immediate response is? It’s something like Grizzlymom3. A little background—we spent a summer working in Yellowstone early in our marriage. It was a strange summer in that there were repeated bear attacks upon visitors. We were always warned that you never want to get between a mama grizzly and her cubs.
She’s been all of that for them spiritually as well. Her years of devotion to our three little cubs, home schooling them every day, is, next to prayer, the biggest reason all three still follow the Lord today.
And then there’s the third and most impressive person of all. Of course, His name is Jesus.
There’s a passage that says it, all about how He’s different from other caretakers—how much He really loves His children. It’s why I have sought to be like Him; why I have remained faithful to one small flock all these years even in times when every sane inclination would have been to find greener pastures elsewhere.
That passage is this: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15).
You see, that’s why I worship Him. That’s why I want to be like Him and to honor Him as He has so honored me.
And it’s why we need to honor, especially this week, those who have emulated His love as our mothers and the mothers of our children, because of what they have been willing to give to show what really matters.
–Jim Wallace, jamesdwallace.com; biblediscern.com