<An industrious Carolina wren recently nested in a huge plant on our porch. After weeks spent preparing and tending her nest, she spent hour upon hour feeding her babies. She enjoyed peace and quiet during the week, but on the weekends was forced to share the porch and contend with our busy family. Mama Wren came to trust us I suppose, and she didn’t seem the least bit bothered by our Springer Spaniel’s daily naps in the nearby wicker chair.
If we congregated on one end of the porch, Mama Wren conducted worm fly-ins from the opposite direction. This dedication and constant motion caught our attention as did the babies’ impatient chirping and peeping. My pregnant daughter-in-law observed an entire afternoon of the fly-bys and feedings and felt instant sympathy. I sort of giggled. Living at the lake there are always lots of comings and goings and hungry mouths to feed.
After everyone had returned home from the weekend, the porch and house resumed quiet but not calm. A huge cold front moved in bringing chilly, heavy winds. Boats were pitching on the lake, towels were flying across the porch. Driven inside, I was refluffing my own nest, washing sheets and towels, when I heard Mama Wren calling, her song much too close to be from the porch. Surprise! Bless her tiny bird heart, she was perched on a lampshade beside a tiny bronzed wren finial, casting a wide look at her surroundings in obvious confusion. I suppose she thought the fake bird finial was a relative or perhaps Daddy Wren to the rescue.
What in the world could have persuaded or derailed this bird from her maternal focus of feeding her flock? I knew she was frantic, confused and feeling trapped, her instincts gone haywire. She was being prevented from completing her all-important mission in the comfort of her bird-built home.
Call us maternally crazy but just as my daughter-in-law felt sympathy for Mama Wren having so many constantly hungry mouths to feed, I felt sorrow for the poor bird being hindered from her duties. I identified with her frustration with not being able to get the job done, feed the hungry, fluff the nest, execute her Mama Bird roles. Whether through her choice or not, she had flown into unfamiliar territory with no apparent exit, fluttering with hope from room to room seeking a solution.
Such is life. Whether we are so absorbed in the tasks at hand that we imprison ourselves, or whether unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances blow us off course, when we are clicking on all cylinders, doing what we’re born to do, detours are unwelcome annoyances at the very least. It’s life’s way of showing us unseen places housing unmet needs on off-beaten paths, potential opportunities and life lessons. But it’s essential for growth. In John Ortberg’s book, When The Game is Over Everything Goes Back into the Box! he writes, “If you’re not facing any challenges too big for you, if it has been a while since you have felt scared, there’s a real good chance that you’ve been sitting in a chair too long.”
It is rare to voluntarily detour from well-worn paths. We are creatures of comfort and security. We like to know what’s coming. To stretch and grow it takes wisdom and guts to ask for ‘glorious burdens’. “Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential… The road to comfort is crowded and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing. Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re busy hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more…,” Seth Godin, Linchpin.
As Mama Wren flew from room to room seeking an immediate exit, I was faced with how best to help her. Wielding a broom and batting at her would certainly promote panic. I couldn’t call her as I would a dog. The best I could do was to give her as many openings and potential exit solutions as possible, step back and allow her to use her instincts and discover her own way out. As soon as calm returned to the room, Mama Wren flew right out the front door.
Detours are part of the journey. Accept the diversion, rise to the challenge, embrace the discomfort, and fly right through it.
~From the desk of Becky Morlok~
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