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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.

She nests upon a branch of my viburnum shrub. We wait with her.

Wintering trees and shrubs now reveal pocketlike nests, long emptied of mating birds and squirrels. It was not always this way.


Each spring, these feathery and furry creatures, swelling with new life, foraged assiduously for twigs, grasses, and sometimes mud, shaping fresh nests sequestered by leafing boughs. Expectant waiting followed. After birthing, they tended quarrelsome mouths squawking for sustenance fleshing out transparent bodies. Sun-drenched skies toasted this new life amid trills and somersaults. With summer’s end, fledgling birds took to the air; squirrels, to telephone wires and fences.


This same instinct to create life also moves mating couples to prepare a nest for their offspring, a nurturing place of quiet, protection, and sustenance. In my neighborhood, little ones in strollers, in red wagons, in runabouts evidence this miracle of new life every day.


It’s no wonder that the concept, nest, has been stretched into numerous metaphors, given our need for carving out protective spaces that enhance beginnings, establish identity, and form community. Within such places, we touch the Sacred Feminine. We are not solitary creatures.


I discovered yet another metaphor for nest, fleshed out in an unusual venue, The Nest – Stay and Play Creative Cafe in Frontenac, Missouri, opened in December 2013. The collaborative efforts of three gifted women, Christine McHugh, Colleen Carlton, and Courtney Tharpe, The Nest affords moms, either stay-at home or working, dads, and their children, a place of refreshment and renewal on many levels: healthy meals, creative play areas, quiet room for business, classes in yoga, in maternal care, in dance, in art, in imaginative exploration, even child-care – all expressive of burgeoning fresh life. Memberships in The Nest also build support communities.





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