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Exam rooms, an image, found in Stories of Hope – Living in Serenity with Chronic Pain and Illness (2012), jarred awareness of my bleak past. Decades of autoimmune disease had led me to frequent them, whether in hospitals, clinics or medical buildings. As I relocated from city to city, I sought out the best internists, rheumatologists, and surgeons, their names and institutions stitched above the pockets of their starched medical coats.

Within the narrow confines of exam rooms, I waited partially disrobed, my list of questions curling in perspiring hands. To distract myself, I studied lurid charts of diseases on the walls, peeked through blind-covered windows to the streets below, thumbed through dog-eared trade magazines, listened for footfalls in the corridor. I also prayed. And then the door would click open, my doctor, followed by fellows and medical students filling the space between us.

The routine was much the same: the narration of raw symptoms and ineffective drugs prescribed from the previous visit, the doctors’ touch upon inflamed joints, orders for x-rays and lab work ups, and then, the plan: surgery or return in one month. Little helped. I still hobbled, over-smiling the grimacing.

Now that I’m under the care of the hospice medical director, there are no more exam rooms—Only my dining room with fresh tulips, frequented by sensitive and caring nurses and the chaplain. It is from this room that I’m preparing for my transition, one day at a time. Deep is my joy and gratitude.

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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