Thursday, April 19, 2012

View from the ‘Empty Nest’

The “empty nest” can be a wonderful place: Children are grown and raised, perhaps married, involved in careers, raising their own kids, and building their lives. Grandkids come over, get spoiled, then go home to mommy and daddy.

In between visits, husband and wife can rekindle their relationship – older and wiser, having survived together the challenges and struggles of marriage and family life.

This has been true for Sally and me. We love time with our children and grandchildren. Being Grandma and Pop is everything – and more – than expected. But we also relish evenings together, watching favorite TV shows or reading books, and going out to dinner, just the two of us.

Yes, the empty nest is a good place – usually.

Earlier this week, however, another type of “empty nest” wasn’t as enjoyable. Just before Easter we found a nest in a bush outside our front door. Inside it were three tiny, yet-to-hatch eggs, watched vigilantly by a mama robin. We observed our little “Easter eggs” from a distance, careful not to disturb the doting parent.

A couple days later I noticed one of the eggs had disappeared. Then, two days ago, all three eggs were gone, mama was nowhere in sight, leaving only a truly empty nest.

One day the mama bird was preparing
for eggs to hatch, the next day all were gone.
It was too soon for the baby birds to hatch, acclimate to life outside the shell, and attend flight school. A cat most likely discovered the nest, situated just a few feet above the ground. (An orange cat was on our front porch yesterday, ogling the nest. I suspect it was the perpetrator, but we don’t have DNA evidence.)

In any case, there will be no little robin cheeps to hasten mama’s delivery of worms (or whatever they eat). Mother robin, if not also a victim of the predator, might be off mourning somewhere. Avian dreams of nurturing little offspring, teaching them to spread their wings and fly, have died. Tomorrow’s hopes have become today’s disappointment.

That’s kind of how it is for many of us. We anticipate and project into the future – vacations, major purchases, special outings. We set aside funds for college and retirement; we make early preparations for Christmas. No room for interruptions or altered plans.

Not that planning is wrong. Waiting until the last minute can be problematic, even disastrous. But putting all of our ducks in a row and expecting them to stay that way can backfire. While getting ready for tomorrow, today happens.

Sometimes interruptions are good – surprise calls from friends and loved ones; unexpected job offers; unanticipated windfalls. But other times, “tomorrow interrupted” provokes emotions ranging from annoyance to despair.

So it helps to balance future thinking with present living. The Bible says as much. Ephesians 5:16 urges, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” And in Matthew 6:34, Jesus advised His followers, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So let’s appreciate the day we have. As someone has said, (even though it’s a bit corny), “Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”

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