Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Empty Nest

I have many gals I know who have entered or are entering the station of life known as "empty nest". All of them have been much on my mind lately. I read this story doesn't make the tears go away, but it does give some perspective.

Evelyn Petty

Our front door slammed open and shut many times over the years, but there was one summer it was silenced-the summer before the last of our three children left for college. Christine, John and Jeff had been fun to raise and the delight of my life. Even the thought of them leaving home felt empty.

One day, I noticed a mother bird feverishly making a nest on the light fixture by our front door. Twigs and debris were scattered on the ground underneath. Somewhat anxious brown eyes peered quietly over the edge at me.

From that time forward, the front door was off limits. Through the entire active summer, with two kids home from college and another one preparing to leave, everyone used the kitchen door. Soon, the nest burst into activity with the arrival of three birds. We were able to watch from the kitchen as the mother bird fed, fluffed her babies, cleaned out the nest and eventually taught them to fly. And then one day, they were gone.

I thought about the mother bird and how her care and tending had ended as the birds flew away leaving nothing but a nest. From the moment I counted the three birds, I began identifying with the whole process, so I carefully took the abandoned home down from its perch and placed it on a shelf in the garage. As I watched Chris, and John, and now Jeff pack to leave home, I wept realizing the inevitable had come; I had raised my family and it was time for them to apply all the lessons home had taught them.

Late in October of the same year, an unusually loud thunderstorm hit our area. I looked out the kitchen window at the sky and a movement caught my eye. There, huddled under the eaves by the front door, near the porch light, were three fledgling birds. I'm sure it was "our family", returning to dind shelter in the only place they knew for sure was safe, familiar, welcoming-because it was home.

Smiling, I returned to my breakfast, knowing I'd been given reassurance. Though the years of nuturing were over, the years ahead would bring many opportunities for sheltering our family. When the crisis, the frightening, the difficult or the overwhelming times come, there is one place that will always be safe, familiar, welcoming for my family--home.

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