The tiny dove that made her nest on the top step of our ladder hasn’t moved a feather. I saw her for the first time while I was showing the man from Invisible Fence where I wanted him to bury the wire. John was at a meeting in New Jersey. I couldn’t wait for him to call so I could tell him about our bird. I was reminded of the bird that had nested in our window about five years ago. I recalled the first time I’d seen her. John was away then too – fishing. I had just returned from the National Gallery of Art where I had spent the afternoon looking at all the ways the Holy Spirit was represented in paintings. The Holy Spirit has always been the aspect of the Trinity that has intrigued me. Inspired by those portrayals of the Holy Spirit and my nesting bird, I wrote a poem that I called “The Comforter” recalling Christ’s promise to his Apostles. John and I watched the bird. Watched as her babies hatched. Watched as they flew for the first time. The symbolism united us. It was something that we shared. One or the other of us will still talk about that bird and the experience of watching those babies fly for the first time. Since that day, my faith has ebbed and flowed. Appropriate I should use those words because my faith is always strongest when I am near water. Funny that the turning points in my novel involve baptism and drowning. I am still arriving at belief. Maybe I will never arrive.
(I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18)
I pause in the midst of my busywork and look up.
Outside, in the window above the woodstove I see a nesting bird.
Alive or dead?
The pose so flawless as if sculpted by the hand of a great artist.
Alive or dead?
Had the nest been there yesterday? The day before?
Had it been there for many days?
Has it been so long since I paused and looked up?
Should I draw the bird or photograph her?
I look forward to John’s call so I can tell him about the nesting bird.
But is she alive or dead?
I turn away and continue my busywork, but I hold the nesting bird in my thoughts.
Later, when I look up again, she is gone.
My nesting bird is alive and I know she will come again.