After the baby robins leave the nest, I spend a few days casually looking for them whenever I go outside. I search the bushes in the front yard and the grass and piles of leaves.
I just want to see one fly once.
I am walking up to the front door one afternoon, camera in hand, when suddenly I see one in the top branch of an azalea bush, sitting perfectly still, watching me. She is about three feet off the ground.
I freeze. We stare each other down. She does not move a muscle and neither do I, and I so want to reach out and stroke her, this tiny live demonstration of His wildness.
I slowly reach my hand out, bringing it closer and closer to her tiny body. Her wings are tucked calmly down, her tri-pronged feet grip the branch, her white throat makes a bright path down her front. She cocks her head at me and then suddenly, with a flutter, jumps out and down, half-flying, half-hopping through the grass.
She does not know how to fly yet.
I am surprised. For some reason, I thought flight was an instantaneous lesson, something that a baby bird jumped into and became expert at immediately.
It seems I was wrong about this too.
I watch her hop crazily across the driveway, turning her head and checking to see if I’m following, and her high hops are finished off with a little flutter at the end.
Why, she is still learning to fly.
I leave her alone to perch nervously on a rock near the garage. And because I am a person and not a bird, and have seen birds flying overhead my entire life, I know that chances are she will have this flight thing down in no time. Of course, she doesn’t know that. I’m sure her thoughts are laced with fear and desperation for survival.
After that sole meeting in the azalea bushes, I never see any of them again. I assume that they fly off at some point, and find mates and build their own nests and live full robin lives.
Days and weeks and months pass.
But I am thinking about it as summer turns to spring. This mystery of flight.
Meanwhile, we steadily prepare for our own crazy leap.
One week ends with the arrival of our passports. Another week we order a huge shipment of coffee from Brazil and my husband and the kids go out after he gets home from work and sell it, door to door in our neighborhood. We are starting to figure out logistics for stuff and our car and the dogs, and under all the plans and dreams and worries and excitement, is the knowledge of the nest.
The hope for flight.
And in fact, I find yet another nest in the backyard mid-summer, a cardinal’s, with small blue eggs freckled with brown.
And then, one day I notice that a dear friend has a nest perched up in the top of the door jamb in her screened porch.
I go for my customary jogs through the neighborhood and I happen to peer into the inner recesses of a boxwood hedge one day, and wouldn’t you know it! Two nests, empty.
Then there is a bunch of familiar movement out in the backyard in an overgrown shrub, and under further investigation, I discover yet another robin’s nest, full of tiny babies, their necks stretched up long in hopes for food.
He is reminding me.
The robin is back up in her nest on the side of the garage on another day, and I pull the chair out and wouldn’t you know it, five eggs this time!
He is reminding me constantly.
And then, suddenly it is the end of July, and we move out of the house, and all our stuff is in storage and we are in a state of transience for 6 weeks while we finish all the details and sell the rest of the coffee and try to earn as many paychecks as possible before the leap.
The leap of faith.
Hopefully, into flight.
And then it is September and we have bought backpacks and water bottles and final emails have been sent, donations gathered, my husband has spoken at as many Bible studies and churches as he possibly can in order to share our story and garner prayer and financial support, and the day looms.
We do not have all our funds, and we are not perfect people going off to do this thing, but the peace in our hearts makes us certain of this leap, shortfalls, and flaws and fears notwithstanding.
And then, it is the day before.
We are leaving for Mexico the next morning.
We perch on the edge of our nest, this comfy haven that has been so padded, so soft and with minimal discomfort, a middle-American life with most of the amenities and normal goals like home ownership and fat savings accounts and prepaid college programs. We have been grateful for these blessings, we have complained about these blessings, we have been humbled by the goodness of God and we have also felt entitled to these riches, perhaps innocently. But no matter. All of that is gone for now.
We feel the need to jump in our very cores.
We feel the delicious longing to fly.
We know that jumping out does not guarantee immediate flight.
It is a leap of faith.
The baby bird does not know that she will fly.
She only knows that she must, if she is a bird at all, jump out of the nest.
We perch, following her lead, finding communion in being made, waiting for timing and provision and empowerment. Like the birds, we stretch our wings.
We board the plane early the next morning, and as it takes to the runway and we zoom toward our new life, up and up and up, we feel our wings strengthening. Wings that were given for a new state of being.