My walk in the park this morning, best buddy happily wagging by my side, was contemplative. I’ve just lost a precious friend, one of the four-legged variety who fill my household with love. I’m sad. If you are an animal lover, you will know exactly what I mean.
So I walked. Admired the bright leaves, many tumbling to earth. I looked at the trees that were already bare and I noticed that without their bright jackets of red and orange I could see something else about them. I could see that they sheltered nests. Some large, some small, all home at some point during the vibrant spring or summer to a feathered family. The trees hide these nests well but now, during this change of seasons, they are revealed. And the trees, already part of nature’s wonderful magic, show something of themselves that makes them all the more special.
It feels like sharing a secret when you realize that the tree you have passed every day for months has had a wee nest snuggled into sturdy branches. It feels like I know the trees better now. Oh, I thought, as I walked by yet another secret revealed. Oh…look at you. All this time I passed by and didn’t know you were sheltering life deep within that leafy canopy. Like a heart song, tucked away where those who might be careless can’t reach it.
We do that, too. Not shelter bird nests on our arms…that would be decidedly awkward. But we do tuck our heart’s secrets away quietly and deeply. Sometimes they are revealed when we relax enough to cast aside our protective coverings, which for us include defensiveness, fear, shyness and the walls we put up when we have been hurt. Sometimes they are only revealed to someone who is willing to work through the defensiveness, calm the fear, coax the shyness and breach the walls. And sometimes…unfortunately…we keep the treasure hidden always.
In grieving for my sweet little guy, I have shared that particular heart song freely. Not always because I wanted to, but because when I am talking to someone and start to cry they generally want to know what has happened. The people who know me and love me and support me have been right there with their caring and encouragement. What has been a wonderful and surprising blessing is that strangers who know nothing about me have also been right there. And that has made me realize something very important.
Hiding and protecting my heart, keeping it tucked securely away where it will be safe, offers a certain kind of protection but no opportunity for sharing the light that is me.
Yes, well. Profound, right? All this, from bird nests hidden in trees? Absolutely. And the lesson that reaching out to others in my grief brings not vulnerability but empowerment as they reach right back to me. If that’s true…and I know from experience that it is…what more have I been tucking away to keep safe? Is it perhaps time to step a bit beyond safety?
Ecclesiastes 3. To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.
Trees shelter bird nests until the young are grown and fly away. When the seasons change, the shelter is no longer needed and the leaves gleam gloriously and gently twirl to earth. People shelter their heart secrets carefully, unwilling or sometimes unable to release that protection. Yet seasons change for all of nature, including humans, and the time comes when the heart song must be shared so it can heal, so it can grow, so it can fly free.
The heart of the matter is that these secret songs, the ones we guard so diligently, are what make us special. And sharing them allows others to learn something about us that we want them to know…because this is what makes us shine. This is our core. Our essence.
The seasons change. Love and loss, joy and grieving, time for every purpose under heaven. And the heart sings on.