Monday, July 03, 2006

A Window With A View

So, how long did Adam and Eve have to wait before the world knew the wonder of kids? How "old" were they before their first child came on the scene? Four chapters into Genesis, I know. But we're not told if it was nine months after that first nakedness issue or what.

I'm not at all sure I'd want to live long in a world without children. So much of what I've learned about life came with a child as my teacher. My own three children, and now my grandchildren.

This weekend, my oldest grandchild...yes, that same precocious five-year-old...taught me how to fly.

Just beyond our master bathroom window, Adam and Eve Barnswallow built a nest on top of a wooden shutter. As the season progressed, we watched the parents tend the nest and warm their eggs. Eventually little fluff-heads attached to massive, always-open beaks peeked over the edge of the nest.

When Grace was at our house on Sunday, I took her by the hand to look out the window at the incredible sight--six now-adolescent barn swallow babies crammed into a tiny mud-and-fiber nest. Grace took such delight in watching the mom flying back and forth with nubbins of insects for the babies. We mocked their bird voices as we watched the beaks open and close. One of the six, pressed up against his brothers and sisters in the middle of the pack, seemed to say, "I'! I'!" when his beak moved. On her next pass, the momma bird dropped something wiggly into his mouth right between "I'm" and "next!" Grace got such a kick out of that, she rolled on the floor with little girl giggles.

And then it happened. One teenie-bopper bird got tired of the overcrowding and stepped out of the nest onto the top of the shutter. He clung there for a few minutes as we watched and held our breath. Then, with a flourish that almost stopped our hearts, the baby took off flying!

I said, "Gracie, honey, do you know how special it is that we got to watch that bird fly for the very first time?"

We were both in awe...and called the whole rest of the family to observe the miracle. The others tired sooner than Grace and I. We stayed at the window a long time.

And bird number two took off! Within a few more minutes, they'd all left the nest except one lone holdout. I called him Fred. The scaredy cat. Grace asked why I named him Fred. I told her he looked like a Fred to me. She said, "At this point, Grammie, I think we should just call them birds."

We couldn't leave the window. We'd cheered and cajoled all the babies, "Come on! You can do it! You can do it!" But despite our encouragement, Fred stayed put. The others came and went, reveling in their new freedom and the glorious discovery that they could eat while flying! (I'm especially glad they're fond of mosquitoes.)

Poor Fred. He didn't know what he was missing. Sure the nest was a lot more comfortable. But it held no possibility of adventure. None. And everyone he knew and loved was out there having fun...without him.

We left our bird-watching perch overcome with the wonder of flight, of God's grace in allowing us a front-row seat for it, and of sadness for Fred, the Fearful.

About an hour after Grace and the family left to go to their own nest, I took another look out the window. The nest was empty. Fred learned to fly!

He was built to fly. He just didn't know it at first.

And God says in His Word that we were built to fly, to soar, to dip and dance in the skies of spiritual adventure. How sad if we stay too long in the nest, wrongly thinking that's where the fun is.