I have a new spring wreath for the front of the house. I should have put it out before now. What’s taken me so long?
I step out onto the wide front porch, wreath in hand. It’s chilly out here. A light fog hovers; I shiver in the pre-dawn grayness. The smell and taste of salt from the Bay hangs heavy in the air. I will hurry, as there’s lots to do to be ready for the sunrise service down on the beach. Waking, feeding, and dressing a toddler takes time. Maybe I will wait until after the service to show him his Easter basket . . .
The old wreath on the front of the house is in terrible shape. I’m ashamed of how it looks, that I’ve left it up for too long. It’s a grapevine with flowers and greenery at the bottom center, behind two white stuffed geese wearing blue bows around their necks. Except that the geese are gray now, speckled, mottled by the elements, and the blue ribbon is faded almost to colorlessness.
I reach for the old wreath and something dark flies out, startling me so that I drop the new wreath onto the porch floorboards.
I notice, then, the rim of a nest tucked into the wreath’s artificial greenery, behind the stuffed geese. The dry grass of the nest blends in with the bits of fake Spanish moss.
And I hear squeaks.
Standing on my tiptoes to peer into the nest, I see four baby birds. They’re still mostly pink skin, with just the beginnings of dark, downy fuzz. Their wide yellow beaks open.
Mama, feed us.
I stand, hardly daring to breathe, watching, awed by this new life. How fragile it is. What a precarious place for it to be, for this wreath is attached to the house by just one nail. If it doesn’t hold . . . I cannot bear to think of it.
I retrieve the dropped wreath and step slowly, carefully away. Mama Bird is somewhere nearby, fussing and fretting over the safety of her babies. I will leave them in peace.
As place my hand on the handle of the old door, I think about this big old house, how long it’s been standing, the storms it’s weathered in a place where storms tend to be more violent due to the proximity to the sea. That it’s a strong shelter, a parsonage provided free to my husband, our little boy, and me. I am going to worry about those baby birds on the front of this house, but I have to believe that the sheltering grace will extend to them, cover them, as it has done for me.
The sun is just beginning to pierce the fog as I take one last look, as Mama flies back to her own, and Papa Bird shows himself for the first time, landing on the white porch rail by the column, his head cocked, watching me. In the pink light of a new day, I think of the old words: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Doesn’t matter how old, faded, ruined, broken . . . new life begins in the most unexpected ways, in the shabbiest of circumstances.
I wipe my tears. I go back inside, new wreath in hand, to my own new life.