“I’m livin’ for May! I’m livin’ for May!” I said, more times than I could count.
Back in January and February, this mantra played like a broken record in my mind. I would mouth the words to a fellow mom across the pews in our homeschool co-op, deep into an afternoon grammar class as my eyes crossed from parsing too many sentences.
“I’m livin’ for May!”
Everyone knew that “the hubs” and I were taking a once in a lifetime trip to Europe for our 25th wedding anniversary this May. It’s all I could talk about, or think about. In May, we would be done with all the rehearsals and practices and recitals and games and projects and classes. In May, we would take a well-earned respite from work. In May, we would fly to castles and cathedrals in a fairy tale land far away.
May has been on my mind for a very long time.
I never imagined we’d be stuck in the heat of an Alabama spring.
I never imagined my husband would be furloughed from work indefinitely.
I never imagined we’d be pinching pennies and stretching dimes.
I never imagined we’d have to suspend our mortgage payment.
I never imagined we wouldn’t see my parents for months on end.
I never imagined we wouldn’t recognize our country.
I never imagined the world would be on fire from something we couldn’t see.
In the midst of all the fear and uncertainty, a simple scene from nature, breathtaking in its simplicity, captivated our family. We would have missed it if we hadn’t been stuck at home. My husband was spending a lazy Sunday morning on the back porch before our online church service, and he discovered a nest of baby cardinals in a bush beside the screen door.
Oblivious to the chaos in the world around them, these adorable little creatures had no concerns about the mortgage on their nest, no worries about whether the complicated food chain arriving at the local grocery store would break down before their next meal.
There were no thoughts of Daddy’s work shutting down and his paycheck not coming.
There were no qualms about how to finish the school year, or what to do with the baseball uniforms and dance costumes they never got to wear.
There were no fears of an economic depression or contracting an insidious disease.
Mommy and Daddy cardinal were hovering nearby, and they only had one job—taking care of those baby birds. They brought food and squawked angrily when someone got too close. They were never more than a “tweet-tweet” away.
We watched in wonder as the nesting birds opened their beaks anticipating something good…
… and stretched their wings wide for a momentous first flight. We knew it would be soon.
And it was.
Just the next morning, the bravest of the three took her maiden flight. First, she jumped to a nearby branch and got her bearings.
Then she stretched wide her wings, trusting that they would hold.
She was soon followed by the second, who paid us a little visit on the screen, and then the third.
Mommy and Daddy cardinal flew right alongside each of them to a neighboring tree near our blueberry bush.
I gathered my little birds close as we watched the wonder unfold.
Suddenly, the burning world with all of its warring factions and dangers and diseases and disorders and depressions seemed a world away. All that mattered was right here—in my nest.
This nest is my castle, the place where beauty dwells.
My back yard is my cathedral, the place where I see God.
I don’t have to fly to far-away lands to find them. They’ve been here all along.
I have a sneaking suspicion that one day, many Mays away, I’ll be rocking in a chair that hasn’t been built yet on the porch of a downsized house I don’t yet own, and someone very special will ask…
“Nana, if you could relive any day in your life, what day would that be?”
And I won’t have to ponder the question long. Thinking of all my little birds in their far away nests hatching little birds of their own…
I’ll tell them of a long-ago May day when nothing was what we expected it to be. And yet, we found that it was better than what we missed.
Better than all the comings and goings that modern life requires.
Better than all the meetings and classes and practices and deadlines and tournaments.
Better than a healthy bank account and a steady income.
Better than a lifetime trip to castles and cathedrals in lands far away.
Better than all the certainty we’d held in surer times as we faced the unknown hand in hand.
Better—because my little birds were in my nest. And we couldn’t leave. And daddy couldn’t work. And we didn’t know how it was all going to turn out, but we were together in a way we never would be again. And we baked and cooked and watched movies and played games and rode bikes and read books and went for hikes and prayed and had church in our den.
I’ll long for just one of those May days that wasn’t what we’d hoped for—but was better than what we’d imagined.
It’s hard to imagine right now, I know.
Many of us don’t know how we’re going to pay the mortgage on our nests, and we have complicated supply chains that make it hard to get food to the little beaks we care for. And the bank account is looking grim. And we’re worried about friends and loved ones who are vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet. And we’re concerned about a nation that seems far less free and secure than it was just months ago.
But our heavenly Father reminds us to…
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
Rest assured, you are.
One day, we will see how it all turned out for our good. Because that is what God promises to do in our hardships—He promises is to bring good out of them. (Romans 8:28)
If you need a mayday for your May Days, ask God to show you the silver lining. Open wide and expect something good from your Papa Bird above. And, if you can, gather those little birdies close by, for one day soon they will fly to a nest of their own. Look for the blessings in this frightening and frustrating time. They are there—just a prayer away. Call on your heavenly Father…
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright — turned stay-at-home-mother—turned author, speaker and blogger. She is dedicated to helping other women see their worth in a season when they often feel less-than.
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