Constancy

I am feeling the melancholy weight of human inconstancy: what people say and don’t mean, what they mean and don’t say. Or what they seem to mean earnestly one day but somehow not the next, or say with great conviction, only to soon recant. It feels painful, this dissonance,  the shifting sand of  what people say and what they actually do.

I should take it in stride, but my heart objects.  I’ve been human long enough to accept the faithlessness of our kind,  yet if I’m grumpy or sleepy — or, really, any of the dwarves but happy — it can be disheartening.  I want us to be nobler than we are. Steadfast. So that we might trust each other, and in that trust, find encouragement to love.ondec2

I didn’t realize how sad I was feeling until the robins disappeared. They have been nesting under my garage eaves for several years; last summer, I watched a mated pair fly themselves ragged raising two broods. I got to see them fledge: a heart-stopping affair, the young ones tumbling into netless air on untested wings.

They all made it, and in the weeks that followed, I often saw the heavily speckled youngsters hopping along the ground or flapping awkwardly in low branches. And the parents always near, still feeding them.

So I looked forward to their return this spring, and made ready. Two months ago, I clambered up a ladder to remove last year’s mud and straw nest, which the mother robin shapes carefully with her breast. This year’s pair would want to build its own. robinsnest

I was thrilled when that work got underway several weeks ago, each day a new twig or piece of straw or small piece of wild softness sticking over the lip of the nest. I regularly saw both robins, the black-headed male perched with a kind of preemptive vigilance on the fence, the grey-headed female working on the nest.

But a few days ago – though I kept hearing their song, well before sunrise and long after dusk — my robins seemed to quit their nest. I comforted myself with the memory of something similar last year,  periods of bustle followed by quiescence before the mother started incubating her clutch.

Still, I felt a pang: Something had gone wrong. And on the heels of that hurt a realization of how badly I needed them, of how much their constancy mattered to me. I wanted them to persevere, to be true.  Last year, I watched the mother robin sit the nest through a month of torrential rain,  riding out the wind and the storms while the father stayed close, perpetually on-guard against predators.  I wanted to bear witness again, to attest to their faithfulness.

Silly, I know, and unfair: a coarse, earthbound human projecting the weight of her needs onto the light and feathered grace of two small birds. I know.momfeatimage

But I can’t help it,  so when I saw the female back on the nest this morning, I felt a sudden joy. I watched both robins, then, winging out and back into the nest, gathering and delivering damp clay soil, and then the female turning and settling, turning and settling. Shaping the mud cup in which she will lay her eggs, if all goes well.

May it go well, I think, and it feels like a prayer: May it go well. For you and your young ones, who will follow you into a natural world of singular faithfulness.  But for me, too, and all the other human beings, who — weary of our own kind — can look to yours, and feel again an abiding trust and something like love.

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148 comments

  1. True.. 😊

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    1. Seems so …

      Liked by 1 person

  2. […] via Constancy — Meditatio Ephemera […]

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    1. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you!

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  3. deemallon · · Reply

    Such an incredibly beautiful lament about disappointment in human beings and the sweet salvation offered by nature. Gorgeous writing, too.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them!

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  4. It is a good post indeed. I like your shots so much.

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    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful post! I too have been a victim of human inconsistency. I hope someday we’ll find people who’ll really root themselves into what they say.

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    1. Trustworthy people are out there; I am privileged to know a few. That said, certainly seem to be more who don’t walk their talk (or change their talk to match the walk they’d now rather take. :)) Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think God has. A Perfect plain for his creatures including mamamals

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  7. So wonderful to bird watch! I love taking my camera out and just capturing them in their business in the evenings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. It’s a lovely pastime!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. in a world of lies , pretensions …the Robins presence may invoke the truthfulness, constancy , soul searching …we are looking out for so desperately ! simply loved it .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much. I appreciate your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “I’ve been human long enough to accept the faithlessness of our kind”

    captured the entirety of what i’m feeling but couldn’t put into words

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think many of us feel this way. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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  10. This is a beautiful blog post. It was like reading poetry, really.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a kind compliment. Thank you!

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  11. Really enjoyed this post, your passion really shines through, theres a great sense of care and compassion for these little creatures- who have a big impact on your life. My grandparents share your sentiments, I think thats why I felt a strong relation to this story. They really do love and respect their feathered visitors.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! And I’m glad to hear that your grandparents love the wild birds, too.

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      1. They live up in the mountains, near a national park. So it’s pretty much paradise for any bird lover!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Intresting narration

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.

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  13. One of the most beautifully written articles I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s quite a compliment; I appreciate it!

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  14. Really true

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  15. I really liked the way you captured the experience it was very poetic and the more I read it the more I was drawn into it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I watched Robins fledge on Saturday- they have built a nest over my door three tines a year for the last five – it is still as wondrous as the first time. I was surprised to see a mother adding to the nest only three days later – another fledge is a month away…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Last year, I got to see two broods. Double (or triple, in your case) lucky. Thanks for sharing your experience; I wish the best for your robins and their little ones.

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