For the past three years, we've had a nest of swallows on one of our outdoor lights in front of our house. I've rescued baby chicks that fell out of the nest, dodged their watchful and protective parents, seen the entire nest of hatchlings die during last summer's drought and heat. We even tore the nest down after the pair of swallows abandoned it when their offspring died. It was a sad thing. Circle of life and all that.
But last night, my husband saw this little guy perched on the light, staking out the spot for the nest. He was staunch in his conviction, boldly staring me down while we chuckled, pointed, marveled, and even took this picture of him:
Somehow, I suppose, this family of swallows has intuited that we will protect them. They consider our house a safe haven, and return year after year, despite our best efforts to encourage them to go somewhere else.
Last year, I remember coming home to a nest-building conference between four swallows. One was sitting on the light, chirping while the others sat on the roof, heckling him. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
"Now, Alfred, are you sure you wrote the directions down right? After all, your memory's not what it used to be, and we had a hard winter. Are you sure the nest was here?"
"Of course I'm sure it was here! I built it myself, for Pete's sake! I'm telling you, The Humans must have taken it down, or a storm blew it away."
"Well, we're running a little behind schedule. Do you think you can rebuild it in time before I have to lay my eggs?"
"Sure, no problem--"
"Yeah, like you finished the winter shelter in time..."
"That's enough smart talk from you, Junior."
"I still think the nest site was two streets over."
"We checked there. Not like you would remember anyway. You were barely this big when we left."
"I don't know, Alfred, that Female Human keeps encroaching on our space. Do you know how much energy it takes to swoop and dive at her while chirping at the top of my lungs? I swear, you'd think the human would catch on. They're so slow..."
"I say we build it here. I have a good feeling about them. Remember when she put Junior back in his nest, twice, a couple of seasons ago?"
"Yes...that's true. The Female sure did seem upset to see him on the driveway. And she did save his life..."
"There you go. That's enough proof for me that whatever annoying things they do, it's not because they want to hurt us. It's just because they're Human."
And so the resolution passed among the swallows, and the second nest was built. The searing heat came, and three dead chicks later, the nest lay fallow. And we took it down. It was only a sad reminder of how sorrow comes into every life at some point.
But now the season of renewal and rebirth is here yet again, potent reminders of the grace and mercy of God. Perhaps it is time to rebuild relationships that have lain fallow for a period of time.
Where is your safe haven? It is a place? Or is it a person? Do you feel a need to return to that place or person that feels like home? Be courageous, and trust that instinct that tells you to step out in faith, regardless what skeptics might say.