Messy And Close
It was a hot mess. And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.
I am speaking about my front porch.
Every morning I opened my home’s door to find it strewn with various bits of detritus. Chunks of styro-foam. Bits of netting. Straggle-y sticks and stalks. By the end of the day said trash would disappear, which I chalked up to a good, stiff breeze.
This mystery continued for several days until, finally, it dawned upon my toddler-addled brain to look up.
And there it was -the beginnings of a nest.
A. Really. Ugly. Nest.
Precariously perched in a small corner a mama bird was hard at work building a place to have her young. Her progress was not what one might call pristine or promising. Certainly not pretty. But she did not stop, and, eventually, she made something of a topsy-turvy home in which to lay her eggs.
I wondered what in the sam-hill would cause a bird to build upon such a small, hidden eave, when anywhere else would have taken so much less work. Our front yard is full of perfectly good trees, ready-made for nest-building. However, I also saw that our neighborhood was full of mockingbirds, those aggressive birds that will dive-bomb the head of anything human, avian, or otherwise. This robin- mama wasn’t looking for pretty or easy. She was looking for protected, sturdy, safe. She was looking for close and hidden. And she was willing to do the awkward, messy work of creating that kind of home for her chicks.
All this reminds me of Psalm 84, where the writer cries out:
Even the sparrow has found a home – and the swallow a nest for herself – where she may have her young. A place near your altar, Lord, my King and my God.
It strikes me that the bird (and the psalmist who wants to be like the bird) is desperate to build a nest near God’s altar. Close. Tucked in. Intimate.
And it amazes me that Psalm 84 says God welcomes the messy process of his people (like birds) bringing the bits and pieces of who they are, strewing the altar with the trash, because, well, because He’d rather have us messy and close, than pristine and far away.
Intimacy, like nest-building, is messy.
But it is so well worth the mess.
Especially when what you end up with is nesting place nearer to God than you could have ever imagined.
I’ve never wanted to be more bird-brained in all my life.