This week, I was reminded of an on-going conversation I have with myself on a regular basis about faith, or lack thereof.
One of the biggest questions I have for those that claim to not embrace any kind of religious faith is this:
When life hits you with devastating loss, betrayals, or even concerns about the world’s very survival (and it will at some point), where do you turn for answers, emotional support, and a reason to go on?
I am really curious about this.
So many times, when I have been challenged by tough stuff in my life, I have found the deepest comfort, support and survival in my faith.
Everyone is entitled to his or her religious beliefs.
Some choose not to believe at all, which is their right.
That doesn’t work for me.
Since I was a little child, something stirred deeply in me that caused me to believe that something bigger than all of us, than all of this, exists.
For me, that belief includes faith in a God I cannot see, hear, touch, or even prove exists.
I’m especially a fan of Jesus, the ultimate street Christian that cared for all.
My God is one of love, not one of human judgement or hate or personal greed.
A faith belief that serves as a North Star for my personal behavior and choices.
Always has. Always will.
A place I turn to when I feel I’m way off course and need to right my own ship.
One that believes in good, not evil, and taking responsibility for individual choices.
One that choses love, not hate.
One that boldly questions when I do not fully understand what I have just experienced, or the pain caused me by others.
Or seeks forgiveness for any pain I have caused.
My beliefs and questioning bring me comfort during moments I cannot easily explain.
I was thinking about this while deciding this week’s Sunday Spirit blog post.
I wrote in my July 17th Newsworthy blog about a momma Robin building an intricate nest on my front porch and then laying her eggs.
It’s still on the blog if you want to check it out.
I was honored and excited that the Robin chose my porch to start her family, and I did what I could to help protect her from predators.
Every day, I would say a gentle good morning and goodnight to mama bird and check on her comings and goings.
It brought me a sense of purpose and peace in my busy daily life.
Robins are known for being friendly birds. My gentle actions toward her seemed to suit her just fine.
I could eventually get close while watering plants nearby and she didn’t fly away.
Which thrilled me no end, reminding me of the power of being kind to all living creatures.
For weeks, through extreme heat and stifling humidity, mama bird tended unselfishly to her nest and her unborn charges.
I knew the heat was a challenge.
On some of the toastiest days when it was hard to breathe the air, I would see her stand over the eggs on the nest, rather than sit down on them.
She was doing her duty, while trying to survive, too.
I was moved by her loving actions and spent many moments rocking on the porch and thinking about the magic of nature and God’s smallest creatures.
I marveled that the Robin seemed to know exactly what to do as a mama bird, and did it well.
How did she know that?
How do any of us instinctively know such things?
Life is fascinating when we stop to observe and reflect.
Mama Robin was granting me the gift of slowing down, questioning life, and marveling at it all.
Giving thanks, too.
As the days went by, I was eagerly anticipating the baby birds that would soon be chirping in the nest.
In a world full of bad news, that potential good news made me really happy.
Nature was again doing its thing, no matter what else was happening in this unsettled world.
But this happy ending was not to be.
One day I came home late after being out of town and noticed mommy bird was not in the nest at twilight, which she always was.
That was unusual.
When I checked first thing in the morning, she had not returned.
Her absence continued throughout the week.
My heart broke thinking that maybe a predator had gotten into the nest.
But the eggs were still there.
Blue, beautiful and still intact.
Full of new-life promise.
Two had cracks that indicated breaking free might happen at any time.
Mommy bird had obviously abandoned the nest.
I have since left the eggs alone after reading that Robins can return to their nest for two weeks.
Their babies tend to hatch within 13 days.
It has now been a month since she laid them.
They have not hatched.
And mommy bird has not returned.
I wondered if something happened to her.
Apparently, mommy birds can tell if their eggs are not viable and won’t hatch.
Maybe that’s what happened.
I even thought maybe climate change was responsible and the unborn chicks couldn’t survive in the extreme heat and humidity.
In short, they roasted.
I felt like that myself some days as I looked forward to a cooler fall.
That possibility made me sad because nature is paying a huge price for unaddressed climate change caused by humans.
Instead of sweet aviary chirping now, the porch is now deadly quiet.
I will probably never know the answer to what happened to this charming little family.
With that realization, I again turned to my faith to question that which sometimes has no answer.
It’s not the first time I have done that.
Those actions bring me some peace and comfort.
I am an incredibly sensitive soul that feels loss deeply.
Even the loss of baby birdies and their mommy’s grief.
My faith showed me how to be grateful for the joy and lessons these birds shared in their too-short time on my porch.
Instead of being incredibly sad at the loss.
Mother Nature has again helped restore my faith.
A faith which I can no longer imagine life without.
And one for which I offer no apologies.
In what way did something in your life this week cause you to stop and reflect on your faith?
If you lack any faith practice, what gets you through tough times?