Yesterday while musing on paper, I noticed a turtle dove land near my neglected garden and disappear under the tangled weed/rose bush mess that I desperately want the lawn crew to excavate. (Remember how I contracted cellulitis in my finger from trying to cut that beast down? I have permanent joint tenderness from that infection. I greatly dislike that rose bush!) After a few minutes, I noticed the bird just sitting under the plant monstrosity, so I decided to see if she was injured. As I walked over, the dove took flight and I searched for a nest amongst the twisted branches of the weed/rose bush.
But her nest was not in the bush.
Instead, what I mistook for a bundle of dead weeds carelessly tossed on the ground was actually this dove’s nest. Intricately woven together with sticks, grass, leaves, and her own downy feathers, the nest lovingly built by this bird and her mate was torn into five large pieces—never to be used.
Then it hit me. On the previous day, the maintenance team cleaned out the gutters, which is probably where the doves built this nest. If there were eggs or chicks, they were scattered now. (Though I hope our maintenance men wouldn’t toss out eggs or chicks.)
I was overcome with sorrow. Liquid formed in the corners of my eyes and began dispelling. How could someone do this? How would the dove survive? What would she do now? She just sat by her nest in confusion…what happened to the dream she had? And where was her mate in all of this? In retrospect, I thought about how utterly alone she looked!
I told my mom about this horror, wondering how could humans learn to live with animals, and why did the world have to be so fallen anyway. Obviously, I was overreacting. My mom gently reminded me that the dove was probably building a new nest because nests are damaged all the time by high winds, falling branches, predators, and humans. Using the materials from the now useless nest, the dove was building a new nest, a better nest, and hopefully one that wasn’t in the bulding’s gutter.
She took the materials from what was old and broken…and used them to build something new!
In my personification of the bird, I only saw her ruin, devastation, and suffering. However, the dove is not capable of complex emotion, and so she did was what only natural to her survival and the survival of her species. She began rebuilding so she could lay her eggs and once the eggs hatched, raise her young. This bird didn’t have time to cry over what was lost (though apparently I did). She did the next thing, and beautifully, used pieces of the wreckage to craft a new home.
I want to be resilient like this dove, who greets the dawn with her sweet cooing, who reminds me of the promise of God’s peace and the Holy Spirit. I want to sift through the wreckage I still cry over and take the sturdy pieces of those ruins to build something new, something better, something more solid that can be used for God’s glory.
From this simple bird, I learned that sometimes it’s not about mourning (ironic considering turtle doves are also known as “mourning doves” for their cries sound “mournful” to some). Sometimes it’s about surviving, even if that means building a new life from the ruins of the hopes and dreams contained in the old life. Oh, the process is painful and slow and frustrating, but only when it is completed can it yield fresh, new life.
How has something that is broken/ruined in your life brought forth something beautiful? Or new? What do you think of a dove’s song–beautiful or sad? Or beautifully sad or sadly beautiful? Share because you care!