I’m starting to forget which day of quarantine it is. It’s a lot tougher to number the days when the days aren’t numbered. You know? Like before it was Day 25 of 35, but now?
This week the garden centers and nurseries reopened in Bavaria. Today on my lunch break I was able to steal away to buy plants. I went to two different local places. They were both packed. I mean people were masked and keeping their distance but you could tell that the joy of planting was just overflowing.
It’s not having a yard that is the saving grace for me–it’s gardening. The spirit of the plants. There is always a new project in the garden and always something to look forward to. It’s a small space but I can (and do) go out there and get lost for hours. There is an underlying rhythm to nature that even in the face of climate change stays the course. It is hope manifested.
The girls are eager garden helpers. Both of them like to get their hands in the dirt. I mean Little Bean more just likes to make a mess. Claiming interest in watering, she instead mixes a bunch of sand into her watering can and accidentally (on purpose) puts some (a lot) in her mouth. Big Sister likes to set the plants into the earth, unless there is a worm of course. She also likes to water and arrange the rocks when needed, also when not needed but that’s a garden assistant for you–They always have a mind of their own.
There are a pair of birds building a nest in our rose bush. They built a nest in the same spot last year. Last year however, their nest construction wasn’t sound and the babies fell out the bottom. All but one perished in the tragic fall.
After this failure, one might ask what they are doing back in the same spot building again. In answer to something like this, I’ve heard people say, Birds are just dumb.
But I thought about it. How many times have humans rebuilt after a tragedy or failure? The White House burned during the war of 1812 and was rebuilt. We rebuilt on the site of the Trade Tower tragedy in NYC. The Semper Opera House in Dresden, Germany has been destroyed three times and rebuilt. Countless cathedrals have burned and been rebuilt, namely Notre Dame in Paris which is being rebuilt as we speak. That’s not even to mention the number of private homes that have been rebuilt on the site of personal tragedies, hurricanes and floods.
If the birds are dumb, then it looks like we are too. I have this picture in my mind of aliens from another galaxy observing us and saying to one another, Humans are just dumb, like birds.
I would offer that we are ambitious. It’s that I can do better feeling, the Let me try that again attitude. Gluttons for punishment maybe, we are spurred on by the thrill of seeing what we are made of. We like to prove things. Death of the baby birds notwithstanding, shouldn’t the birds try to build a better nest this time? Are they dumb for trying to perfect their nest building skills? Should they give up after one failed nest?
Einstein said, There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
The longer you watch the birds the more miracles you observe. Hatched out of an egg that was disconnected from any outside body of nutrients, it needed only warmth to manufacture a living creature. Then each species is endowed with all that is necessary for life through its natural instincts. Think about it- how do birds know which materials to use to build their nests? A quick google search will reveal the wide variety of nest building techniques specific to individual species. We could widen this metaphor to include trees and creatures like butterflies, who basically wrap themselves up, turn to jelly and emerge a complicated creature who can fly.
Getting back to the common traits we share with these miraculous creatures, you may see where I’m going. We too are endowed with all that we need. It is written on our hearts and our minds. Sometimes the world is too loud. But when we listen, in the quiet, we find the directions about how to build our nests.
The stuff we have become accustomed to for the most part has nothing to do with our biology, with who we really are, with what we can do or what we actually need. It’s all inside.
So read Einstein’s quote again and decide what you think.