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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.

Melting—Yes, that’s the subject I wish to explore this morning. But what kind of melting?

I’d like to wrap words around the shrinking white outdoors, but none come. I sit and wait. A few peek around the corner of awareness, then nod off. Others resemble careening racquet balls, solitary projectiles, unable to relate with anything and drop to the floor. Thus, the challenge in working with words. Still, in the side yard, the plank fence is bare of snow as also the Christmas holly, its red berries diminishing.

Perhaps another day will produce the blog featuring the melting white world outside my study window; its beauty still speaks.

There it was, within January’s mid-morning brilliance, immobile save for yellow-encircled bead eyes in its brown head rotating in all directions. It was the American robin, solitary, its claws grasping one of the bare branches of my lilac bush, their hard tips swelling with promise of color.

As I watched, ancient legends of robins came to mind.

The robin’s russet breast recalled that of another: Moved by the blood-soaked prisoner carrying a cross-beam that morning at Calvary, that robin noted His crown of thorns mashed into His head, plucked out one, and flew off, its breast ever stained with His blood.

Another legend credits the robin for shielding the Christ Child during the family’s harrowing trip to Egypt. A nearby fire spewed sparks threatening the Infant, but were absorbed by the robin.

Such legends also attributed to many kinds of birds—doves, peacocks, eagles, gold finches, larks, owls, pelicans, blackbirds, etc.—found their way into the work of Renaissance artists and suggests their rich imaginal interplay. Indeed, a certain playfulness, in the deepest sense, suggests a faith-dynamic absent in many Christians: Their fire has gone out.

It was so still as I continued watching my robin. Variegated browns and blacks filled out her wing and tail feathers that ruffled in docile breezes.

Then, the robin flew away. Again, I’d been visited, my world enlarged with hope.

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