Lessons from the Trail: The Mother Bird

I try to spend as much time as possible on a trail directly east of my house.
It is a beautiful place where I love to bike and run.
You’ve probably seen some of the Instagram photos from the trail that I’ve taken on my sidebar.
Since it’s completion a few months ago, Murdock Trail has quickly become one of my Holy Places.

murdock trail

In the past two weeks, while on the trail, I’ve had three very significant experiences that I want to write about. I expect I will have many more, so today I will start this “lessons from the trail” mini-series on my blog as a place to record these simple moments in time that have such a profound impact. In fact, for me, the impact is so significant that I usually bawl my eyes out and thank God for the message. Well, at least that is what has happened the last three times and I expect my reaction won’t change over time. When the whisperings hit straight to my heart, I usually suspect that God has something to do with it.


So, as you all know, lately I have been heavily focusing on my role at home and learning to find happiness and joy in my motherhood. Well, the other day, my lesson was magnificently focused on this journey. It was a small moment. It probably only lasted 25 seconds.

On a chain-link fence off to the side of a trail, I noticed a bunch of little finch-like birds. I couldn’t tell if they were just a really teeny species or if they were babies. The looked a lot like the ones above that I snatched off the internet. (I really would like to learn more about birds) As I was riding my bike towards home and watching the birds (there were about 5 or 6) playfully perching and hovering around the fence, out of nowhere, came a bigger bird. It was instantly apparent that the big bird must be their mother. She looked exactly like them and seemed to be at the very least communicating in some way with the young-in’s or at the most she was somehow corralling them. I couldn’t quite tell.

I kept observing and my eyes were drawn towards the mother. She looked haggard. Maybe she was molting, I wondered. Or maybe she was just a new mom and her wings were haphazard from all the time she spent in the nest with her babies? I kept thinking about the reasons the mother’s beauty was significantly less than her babies’ beauty.

Out of nowhere my answer came: She gave her beauty to her babies. She didn’t care what she looked like. Her eye was on her prize: her babies on the fence. She was happily observing them, watching out for danger, keeping them close. In the very least she was talking to them, in the most she was corralling them. Someday she would die, yet she would live on through those babies. Without the pressures and complications I as a human mother face, she seemed to possess the joy for which I’ve been looking.

With  my new insight I gained from pondering, that mother bird was instantly transformed into one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen. As tears welled up in my eyes I realized that God was up in heaven somewhere looking down on me having as significant an experience with me as I was with the bird. He smiled (as I did with the bird) in pride at this haggard momma who just wants to learn to be happy with all that is required of her. I heard his voice directly to my heart, “Alice, know this to be true…you are a beautiful mother and there is nothing, I mean NOTHING, better than that.”


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