The year I was diagnosed with cancer, I spent a lot of time by my kitchen door. I would sit on my red stool, drink tea, and watch the winter creatures in the woods. That year, I happened to be blessed with a pair of blue birds who had taken up residence in a hole in the side of my neighbor’s wooden shed. Every afternoon around 2pm, they would come to my feeder filled with homemade suet and enjoy a hearty meal.
I was delighted!
I have always loved the shade of blue that graces their wings, and here in the midst of the neutrally-toned birds of winter, they filled my spirit with the color of cornflowers on a hot summer day. They could not have graced my presence at a better time.
After two surgeries, the first foray out of my home was to the local bird store. My mom decided I needed a house and special food to see if I could attract my own feathered friends. After perusing books and the internet, I selected the right spot for the new home and waited.
In spite of all the right logistics the last 3 years, no blue bird has inhabited our house. Bats, wasps, and a woodpecker have all resided in the box, but no blue birds. Finally, I gave up hope where they were concerned and appreciated that this bird house had become a home to several other of God’s creatures.
When our chickens arrived last Spring, I spent most of the summer clucking around the gardens with them. I ignored the box and played with the girls. I never imagined that farm animals could bring such joy to our little farm. As some of you know, it was quite devastating when a raccoon invaded their coop last October and brought sadness to our family.
For weeks, I cleaned up around the coop and the run. I tried to remove any reminders of the girls. Feathers, pine chips, and gravel made their way to the compost bin, but as Fall faded into Winter, I continued to find reminders of them hidden among leaves I’d used for mulching plants.
Last weekend, the farm was blessed with a sunny, warm day. I spent morning until dusk tending to the land. As I made it around over to the blue bird box, I decided to open it up and check inside. There it was–a nest. Undoubtedly, it did not belong to a blue bird as it had 3 layers of various materials–fresh moss, warm fur, and dried grass. But it didn’t matter, for what I saw on the foundation of the nest blessed my heart.
There at the base of the nest was a mix of pine chips and chicken feathers. Those old materials I had cleared away in Autumn had resurfaced to nurture new life in Spring. In that moment, I experienced “old made new.”
In writing this post, I searched for a feeling that would capture “old made new.” It began bittersweetly as I was reminded of the old times and what I missed and how my life had been touched. It grew into acceptance as I acknowledged that with change, come new opportunities for growth, new paths to journey. And then, I think I just stood there in awe of how God works, of how the cycle of life brings us to these places of “new” by building on experiences of “old.”
After snapping a quick photo, I gently shut the door and walked away. It’s funny how life works sometimes. Just when I thought I was caring for creation, it turns out creation was caring for me.