Standing Watch

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Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

“Oh, how sweet it is to trust in Jesus,” for “He is risen, has risen today.” The mysteries of Easter are not only played out in pageants around the world, Nature puts on her own magnificent show for those of us who will stop and look and, of course, Listen. Shhhh. Quiet.
Before I am even conscious of the sunrise, I am wakened to the sounds of “our” birds. My goodness, they wake early, especially in the Spring as they have much to do; busy days ahead for new parents. Building houses, warming the nest, finding juicy worms, and teaching young ones life lessons. Oh yes, busy days, indeed.
Bill and I have once again watched a dear little couple, gorgeous Bluebirds, move into the single accommodation our back yard provides. In fact, it has been our pleasure to spend a great deal of time on our back screened-in porch having lunch, sharing afternoon tea or just lounging about with no excuse except to “check on our little family.”
I have often called from my position at the kitchen sink, “Bill, they’re back. He’s got a tiny bundle of sticks with him.” Then off we would both go, hands dripping, book tossed aside, all chores suspended so that we can watch the wonder of God’s beautiful creatures at work themselves, preparing a home in anticipation of starting a family. Back and forth, these tireless workers drag building materials into the single tiny hole of the birdhouse. It sits high and safe from marauding squirrels, and is shaded by oak branches which provide camouflage from the giant hawk who lives just down the street.
It is our pleasure each year to offer this unremarkable abode; unpainted and a bit ramshackle in appearance, nevertheless, it is sturdy and safe. It keeps the rain off, keeps their babies warm and snug, and is large enough for mom or dad to snuggle inside, first hatching, then providing nourishment for their hungry little “peeps.”
Isn’t that what we are all looking for? Aren’t we, each and every one of us, looking for a “safe place” in which to create a home, raise our children, and leave from and to work each day?Finally, a snug little place in which to retire in peace and enjoyment, big enough so that family and friends can gather round, caring for and comforting us before, like the baby birds, we finally find our wings and when the time is right, head off into the heavens to our Eternal Adventure!
Well, that might be a little too dramatic a simile I just painted. I did get a bit carried away, didn’t I? But, my oh my, how the beauty of Spring does inspire me to soar into the vast vocabulary of poetic imagery. Settling down a bit, just let me turn to describing the absolute wonder of the four Dogwood trees that live and bloom (strangely, all at different times) in our modest yard. Now, until we moved to Senoia, we had only pine and oak trees; for over thirty years, nary a dogwood bloom graced our landscape. It was a sad reminder that something was missing. Of course, I also did not have a window over my kitchen sink and so could not gaze contentedly, nor could I muse profoundly on the meaning of life and rebirth each Spring.
Sigh…happily, I can and do now. And to my surprise, I have discovered that each of the four trees has a special time to “shine.” The largest put out her big, soft white blossoms weeks before Easter, and I immediately started whining that we would have no Dogwood blooms at Eastertime. “Whoever heard of Easter without Dogwoods in bloom?” I would moan every time I stood at the sink, looking out at the big ole Dogwood who did not know that she was very early for the party! I practically wept when her blossoms began to fall and eventually covered the ground with a carpet of flowers.
Of course, I should not have worried. While those blossoms did eventually leaf out as did those on two other trees, one pink and another white, a single tiny tree finally put forth her delicate flowers, exactly the color of a baby’s blushing cheeks, just two days before Easter Sunday. I sighed with pleasure realizing that the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of our precious Savior was safe in the tender blossoms of our Easter Dogwood.** How could I have doubted that He was in control? Oh, Ye of little faith. The disciple Thomas and I had yet another lesson to learn.
Mr. Bluebird (he is much bluer and of grander plumage than Mrs. Bluebird) is now working harder than ever to keep those little mouths fed. There they are, all day long, cheeping away with the rest of the early birds that live nearby, eating mom and dad out of house and home. The parents race back and forth all day feeding the greedy little dears. Not to worry, they will soon have found the strength and the courage to set off on their own, and we will be very sad…until next Spring …or until tomorrow when there will be some other natural beauty or wonder to capture our attention and remind us to “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Amen to that!

**Some say it was the Dogwood tree that was used for the Cross. It was once as strong as the mighty Oak. Perhaps. I only know that its blossoms hold a beautiful reminder of that Cross, of the wounds, the crown of thorns, and of the promise of Eternal Life.

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