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Consider the Robin: Jump


At some point, those babies jump out of the nest.

I miss the whole thing, much like I missed them hatching.

For those two weeks that they live there, as they are fed and grow and become stronger and more alert by the day, it occurs to me that robins are only supposed to live in nests for a tiny portion of their lives.

For some reason, I’ve always thought of birds with nests as a permanent fixture. But really, they are centered around reproduction. Around being and having babies.

The nest is not home.

It is a launch pad.

Flight must be dawning in their minds as I walk back and forth on the front walk each day, caught up in preparations and joy and new purpose.

They cock their heads at me and lift their wings and stand there, little spring time prophecies. They are all crammed in, sardines in a can, getting so big they can barely move.

We’ve been telling everyone that we’re going to Mazatlan. We are brainstorming ideas for fundraising. We have no idea how this thing will happen, but there is such a peace about all of it, that we keep on, one step at a time, praying for doors to slam shut if we aren’t supposed to walk through them.

Our family and close friends are excited for us, and I’m sure there are those who are disapproving, but the idea has taken on a life of its own, and pretty soon it matters not who is in our corner – though it is such an encouragement to have friends who call and pray and help and support – for we feel His wind in our sails as we make our lists and crunch our numbers and make phone calls.

This idea perches nimbly in our lives, growing and swelling in the middle of our daily, and those little birds perch there, at the edge of that well crafted spin of sticks, a home made of trash turned to treasure, and stare down at me curiously, and I can tell that it isn’t too long now.

As we get closer to the two-week mark, I keep walking to the window to see if they’ve jumped yet, wanting badly to be witness to it.

And one day, they do. They are there in the morning when I go for a run, all dappled gray and white, and have yet to develop the rust-colored breast. They are standing up tall and awkward, jutting out of the nest like ill-placed statues. I forget to check them when I get back, and then, at lunch time, the nest is empty.

I run out and stand under it, bereft. I look around in the front yard, but don’t see them.

They are gone.

Poignantly, I will miss them.

It is as it should be.

At some point, the nest became old news. It was too small, too confining. In order to be true birds, they had to say goodbye to its cushioning support and predictable warmth.

It was in their DNA.

How many of us have been living in the comfortable nest for way longer than we’ve needed it?

It starts to chafe us.

The material comforts of this life, the plethora of resources at my disposal, the people and plans and talents I have been given for good reasons – all these began to rub wrong at my heart and mind in the leisure of the American Dream.

Too much of a good thing is, well, too much.

I know I’m not alone.

There are dreams inside each of us. Youth is wasted on the young, they say.  When we are young and fresh and full of God-given plans, we seem to think we have all our lives to pursue the things which make us come alive. So we get a normal job, because you need money to live, or we start having children and we think we can’t do both of these massive things – chase our dreams and raise kids/pay the bills/have stability, and it slowly grows into a dependency on our amenities, and unless you are in the small category of people who won’t give up until they are in the right place, I believe that many of us forfeit our plans for comfort.

We settle for the nest.

We forget about flight.

And the leap that is required in order to fly.

But the robins understand.

He built them, blue eggs and black eyes and someday-rusty breasts, to understand that to jump is life. The gateway to food and freedom and a mate and the constant state of airborne.

How wonderful to be born and fed. Cushy and warm, with small difficulties like space and portion size and waste. Overall, pretty easy. But they cannot stay.

What we might call  crazy, if we were writing the story, is a normal part of their progression to adulthood and freedom. It is the only path to a fulfilled life.

To leap out into the unknown, with no safety net.

So risky.

Major potential for failure. Broken limbs, predators, weather. Finding food could be a bit of a gamble. Or it could become a total, humble reliance on the Creator to provide worms and bugs, depending on how you look at it.

Maybe we should all be a little more humbly dependent on our Creator.

I remind myself of this constantly, as we break our Mexico news to family and friends and address support letters. I realize that there will be folks who think us completely insane, especially after my husband was unemployed for a while last year. After all, the economy isn’t at peak right now and kids need stability and perhaps we should wait until we’ve maxed out a 401k and retired before we up and move to Mexico. Perhaps we haven’t thought this through. Maybe this is foolishness, to follow the pull in our hearts. Perhaps we’re not being very practical. There are people who get excited when you say you’re doing such an outlandish thing, and people who look at you like you’re missing some vital brain cells.

I remind myself constantly that He created the robin.

And he made her to jump.

In order to fly.

In order to live.


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