Bring on the Day and Its Worms

posted in: Nature, Parenthood, Uncategorized | 0

I couldn’t sleep last night because one of my kids made rotten choices, lied about those choices, and her future is threatened. It’s heavy and hard. My face hurt from crying. My head felt like I was wearing a helmet two sizes too tight. Over and over, I’d feel myself slipping into sleep, but something would jar me awake. My husband pulled on our covers. A kid woke up crying but was easily settled. I wasn’t. Then, the birds started to sing outside.

The chirping infuriated me. It was still dark. Birds have the ability to see sunlight before we can, and they are all for it: Bring on the day and its worms, they demand. Their songs meant my chance for solid rest vanished. The day and its worms meant something very different for me. I listened to them and was gripped by a strange thought that didn’t click together with my insomniac wallowing.

Those birds outside are new birds. 

The thought was tucked around me. I was stilled.

I could see young birds sitting on the tender branches of young trees. They surfed as the wind blew, bouncing up and down. From their flimsy vantage, they still found food crawling through the grass or rest from flying. Year after year, the trees in our yard have grown taller and sturdier. New birds have hatched, but they don’t find the branches as outlandishly adventurous. They are supported by sturdier arms.

Like our child…

We’ve grown up with her. We are older, more stable, wiser, and yet her decisions still smacked us hard enough to cause reeling. But because we have that solemn and solid history of loving her through the years and have built trust, this storm—while painful—is temporary.


When I was in college, I had a biology professor who was the dad of a college-aged daughter. He’d often talk about her and her boyfriend, who happened to be named Robin. The professor referred to him as Turdus migratorius, which is the scientific name for the common American robin. After all these years, I still remember the Latin name of robins because of the connection my professor built. I wonder if Turdus ever built a bicycle on Christmas Eve for my professor’s grandchildren.

There are several Turdus migratorius nests either on our house or near. One was stupidly built in the lower branches of a blue spruce tree, about four feet off the ground. I don’t know how the birds survived, but they managed to hatch several batches of new birds to sing, hop, and be the official harbingers of spring. The nest was obvious to anyone walking by, scampering along the fence, or soaring overhead. I was continually amazed they didn’t succumb to a hawk, squirrel, frisbee, prowling cat.

It was probably built by a new bird.

Winter hit and the silly nest fell apart. New nests were built in more sensible locations, housed in larger trees. Robins aren’t famous for being clever like blue jays or magpies, so I doubt they looked back on that outrageous little nest and did the birdie equivalent of a forehead smack and cringe. We got lucky, they chirp. Nodding in agreement, one of them ventures but what a view!


Galway Kinnell wrote one of my favorite poems. It’s called How Many Nights.

How many nights
have I lain in terror,
O Creator Spirit, maker of night and day,

only to walk out
the next morning over the frozen world,
hearing under the creaking snow
faint, peaceful breaths…
bear, earthworm, ant…

and above me
a wild crow crying ‘yaw, yaw, yaw’
from a branch nothing cried from ever in my life.

I’m left thinking that not only was the the branch previously unused, but the wild crow was new in town. God is continually importing the new to wake us up, to encourage, to breathe revival into our hearts.



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