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Several days have passed since the gray squirrel attacked the cardinal in her nest, from which both tumbled and momentarily disappeared. After an interval, the cardinal circled the nest, then returned to its depths, unusual because such violation precipitates abandonment and search for a safer sight for building another nest.

A strange stillness settled over the area of the nest, hidden by thick foliage of the viburnum. Even the winds were still, disallowing a peak at the cardinal. And there was no sign of the protective mate, occasionally feeding her. Maybe both were gone.

Then, one evening the pair was back, frolicking around the nest like aging grandparents. Mesmerized, I sat back in my study chair and gaped until they flew off. Something was happening.  

Two more days passed. Again, more stillness shrouded the area of the nest and weighted my spirit. Perhaps the pair did settle elsewhere. To determine this eventuality, I asked a friend to photo the nest. The findings: in the empty nest were three ivory eggs speckled with brown and gray.

As I write this blog, a gentle breeze stirs and I see the mother’s dark tail feathers laying over the side of the nest. If all goes well, three hatchlings will screech for gnats and pre-digested seeds until developed sufficiently to leave the nest—in about one week. I’m in good company.

Last evening, it happened again outside my study window. Breezes parted the dense foliage of the summer snowflake viburnum shrub and a glimmer of red shot through—what looked like almond-shaped red feathers on the top of the cardinal’s head; around him, a twiggy nest. He may have been there through the night.

And this morning, his mate was in full view making her way up through the branches toward the nest. There, she remained, hidden. Like last year, she and her mate selected a protected site for their brood and their later frantic feeding.

Preparing for fledgling life continues.

Outside my study window, a shivering branch catches my attention: upon it has alighted a plump tree sparrow, its short beak foraging for insects. Upon its sandy-colored head and thin striped tail feathers, the morning sun plays like a child messing with finger-paints: shadows and light kiss. In no hurry, the sparrow’s foraging continues, as also its twittering enlivening my backyard: a microcosm for what occurs in many parts of the world.

But who has time to look? To enjoy, the myriad gifts freely offered in our daily bread? Certainly, matters of extreme urgency had filled much of my earlier life.

Only during Gloucester retreats did my inner chatter cease, and the seascape come alive with the message of Jesus: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

So the tree sparrow continues carrying the message of feeding. I have only to look out my study window to be filled—and the nourishment is always different.

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