Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And then there were none

"I shall die in my nest..."
Job 29:18

So, well, here's the thing.  The hummingbirds are gone from our apple tree. 

A few days ago when I looked in the nest, there was only one baby.  We didn't know if the momma had taken one for a flying lesson, or what.  I've done a little research on how baby hummingbirds grow, but we didn't know how old ours were, so it was hard to gauge if they were old enough for that.  And when we looked again that day, and the next, we saw only one.  We saw no evidence of foul play, so we could only assume that the stronger one (and one was definitely stronger) had left the nest and found an apartment of his own. 

Then yesterday I saw the momma, flitting about near the nest.  I watched her for a few minutes, but she didn't go to the nest.  She perched nearby, and then a short time later, she flew away, and I got on with my day.  A few hours later, when I looked in the nest, I saw only one baby.  And he was in an unnatural position, and clearly not breathing. 

I came back in and told my family, and my son went and looked, and came to the same conclusion I did.  Something had gone wrong, and the little one had died. 

We were a little sad ~ it had been fun to check on their progress every day, and to know that little lives were growing, so very close to our home.  And knowing that his life was over so soon was unfortunate.  I thought about cutting off the branch with the nest on it, to keep.  The nest is such an amazing creation, and so lovely, I thought maybe I'd set it on one of the bookshelves in our living room, so we could appreciate it. 

But I decided against it.  I had read that sometimes hummingbirds reuse their nests, and I didn't want to keep that from happening.  Besides, I could admire it just as well from my dining room window, right?

Sadly that is not to be, either.  This morning when I looked out the window, the nest was destroyed.  About one-third of it remains, clinging to the branch.  The fluffy stuff had been pulled out and scattered, and the little baby was gone. 

The kids and I were bummed, but at the same time, there was a sense of resignation.  "It happens..." we each thought to ourselves.  Nature does what it will do. 

But I was having another feeling, too.  A sort of reluctant realization that I needed to be thankful for the death of that tiny creature, and the destruction of that perfect avian cradle.  I had felt privileged that we were "chosen" to witness this bit of nature that often takes place in hiding.  But what ultimately happened was also natural, and if I was going to be thankful for one, shouldn't I also be thankful for the other?

Many moons ago, before I became pregnant with my beautiful daughter, there was another.  Our first baby was lost, early on, to miscarriage, and more than one person said to me something along the lines of, "It's probably a blessing, because probably that baby wouldn't have been able to live."  And that might have been true, but it didn't make it hurt any less. By the same token, whatever happened with the birds and the nest was exactly what was supposed to happen.  Only God knows what, and why, but it was just as much a part of His plan. 

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, whether it's babies, jobs, or hummingbirds.  And if I'm gonna trust that He knows what He's doing in the happy things, then I need to trust Him in my disappointments, too.

~ "My righteousness is near,
    My salvation has gone forth,
   And My arms will judge the peoples;
 The coastlands will wait upon Me,
       and on My arm they will trust." ~
Isaiah 51:5

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