Wednesday afternoon I lounged in a sizeable, empty kiddie pool with my young adult children, to soak in some warm, stray rays of sunshine and enjoy simple conversation. No doubt we looked silly. In fact, a neighbor drove up and informed us the pool would work better if filled. But this is Whidbey Island. The same breeze that filled the sails of Race Week participants causes quite a chill if you’re sitting in a plastic blow-up pool filled with cold water, straight out of the faucet.
There are many things that bring contentment to my heart and being called by my children to check out the new pool gifted to me this week. So do the berries hanging from vines in my garden, the zucchini and the onions. My chihuahuas stretching out on the grass. The two-toned roses. And the barn swallows who occupy my garage.
The pair introduced themselves weeks ago with regular recognizance flights around the cars, up onto the rafters, and through the shelves. For days they perched in random locations while loudly conversing. It was when a small cup-shaped nest began to take form, made of mud from our nearby pond and delicately placed atop a large butterfly net hanging from a nail, did we realize that all of their cheerful warbling was really marital negotiating.
Location. Location. Location.
Within a week the nest was complete. Two soft, billowy feathers ornamented the front and the mother’s tail and head was all that could be seen as she settled upon her clutch of eggs. While we could not see how many filled her nest, we watched as she and her husband worked in perfect tandem. Out the garage he would fly, to soar and sail through the air, catching flying insects for her dining pleasure. In he would swoop, then up to the nest to offer nourishment as she incubated.
Each night he roosted, within sight of the nest, upon the molding above the door into our house. Our regular entries and exits were of no concern to him. He was the night watchman. The provider. The daddy in waiting.
In what seemed like no time at all she began leaving the nest and four fuzzy head with enormous mouths could be seen, peering over the rim. Once they caught sight of their parents they frantically shook their wings and cast their best starving faces. Those days the little mother warmed her brood at night. When they began growing too large for her to cover, she rejoined her doting husband to roost beside him once again above the door.
The fledglings’ first flight happened in an instant as all four gathered the courage to bound off the nest and onto the garage door. Still expecting to be fed, they regularly fluttered as both parents spent their time foraging around our yard, then returning to feed each hungry child. Gifted one afternoon by heaven, we were present at the very moment mom flew in a giant arc around the garage, babies in tow, before leading them out into the beautiful sunshine of their new world.
In recent days the safety of the garage has lured the entire family back to the molding above the door each evening as the sun tucks behind the horizon. The babies roost within inches of their Mom and Dad, who snuggle in such a charming way. The dynamics of home building, family rearing, and young adult launching can be conducted, it seems, while keeping marital companionship and faithfulness and interest alive.
Don’t watch Jon Gosselin. Brad or Angelina. Madonna or Whitney. Step away from the media and out into the sunshine. Quiet your heart. Tune your eyes to God’s world. Talk with your children. There’s faithful living to be done. And cherished. And enjoyed.