Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

This Spring and Summer we’ve watched with fascination as a little sparrow built a nest on our back porch. It wasn’t very elaborate, as nests go. Just some twigs and straw and stuff. But, oh, how she labored to build it. I just wonder how many thousands of trips she made. And to build it in the most unlikely of places.

One of our little ‘birds’ had given Mom and Dad a beautiful two-story, lighthouse-shaped birdhouse for Christmas last year. And Mom put it out there on the back porch thinking that we’d soon see several bird families move in and set up housekeeping. Not to be. The lighthouse bird hotel just sat there empty. Except for a few itinerant wasps and dirt-daubers flying in and out.

But, hey, life goes on. And maybe the birds didn’t like the smell of the wood. Or whatever. Or maybe it was the happy sounds of all the people gathering at various times on our back porch. It is a fun place, I’ll admit. But the best part is the memories of sharing it with families and friends that we’ll treasure forever in our hearts.

Watch closely now, class, and don’t miss the common thread running through the fabric of this true story. One of those family gatherings on our back porch this Summer was a Graduation Party for Kirby, one of our grandsons. And what a party it was! Everybody was there. Lots of laughin’ and talking.’ And, of course, lots of pictures.

And whenever country folks like us get together in the summer time, you just know there’s going to be at least a couple of churns of homemade ice cream. Of course, we don’t hand-crank ‘em anymore, thank God for electricity. But I’m here to tell you, it was lip-smackin,’ dasher-lickin’ good! As the folks back home used to say, ‘A good time was had by all.’ And when it was over, you start the clean-up with a smile on your face, just rememberin’.

As it turns out, I had half a box of ice cream salt left over. Setting it aside on a shelf on the back porch, I made a mental note that I had a head-start on the next churn of homemade goodness. By that time, we’d have some fresh peaches. Boy, oh boy, I could already taste it! But now I’m headin’ down a side road.

Getting’ back to the main road, little did I know that our little back-porch sparrow had decided to use that half-empty ice cream salt box to build her nest to raise her young-uns! I kid you not. And it was sittin’ right beside the fancy-smancy lighthouse-looking bird hotel!

Well, every day we watched her bring the twigs and straw to the salt box and build her nest. And, one day, not long after the salt box had been converted to a bird house, my mill-hill bride came runnin’ in the house to get me. “Come here, quick,” she said.

The look on her face and the sound of her voice told me she had found the prize egg at the Easter egg hunt! And it was eggs that she had found. Just not the hard-boiled, or today’s plastic ones, that you hide in the front yard. It was five tiny little sky blue bird eggs in the salt box on the back porch.

And then we watched in amazement as Mother Sparrow gave warmth and comfort to her future little sparrows by sittin’ on top of them. But you know what? Thank you for asking. With that warmth and comfort and care and protection, it wasn’t long before those little eggs started hatching.

The moral of that story is this. You can’t sit on the little ones forever. You go to work feedin’ and nurturin’ them. And this little mother bird must have made a hundred trips or more per day. Bringin’ grub worms and grasshoppers to feed her young-uns. So they can grow up, leave the nest, fly away and have their own nests on somebody else’s back porch, maybe.

And, just in case you missed it, here’s that thread I mentioned earlier. Kirby, in whose honor we had held the ice-cream eatin’ graduation party, flew the nest yesterday. Along with untold thousands of others, Kirby went to college yesterday. Same thing with Dwayne’s sweet daughter, Allison. And Rusty and Melanie’s precious daughter, Kalyn.

It’s an August ritual. Part of life. Designed by the One who created life itself. And that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Momma Birds (and Daddy Birds, too!) having mixed feelings. Yes, it’s OK to feel a touch of sadness. But that feelin’ is only temporary. Soon to be replaced by the joy of seein’ those little birds fly! And the only way they can fly is when you let them go. You open the hand (and heart) that’s been gripping them tightly for about 18 years. And you let them fly.

So, look in the mirror. You’ve probably had a nest-leaving time yourself. When the ones that fed and nurtured you felt the same way you’re feeling right now. I can hit the rewind button to August, 1961. Forty-nine years ago this month, a skinny farm boy with a flat-top hair cut left the warm nest at Route 4, Seneca, SC, and went off to college. I can only imagine what Mother must have thought when she saw my shaved head with an orange beanie cap called a ‘rat hat’ perched on it!

And, don’t miss this, another little bird, a beautiful one, a sight to see, flew away from her mill-hill bird nest at the same time. And although they were flying in different directions, the One who knows when every little weak-winged sparrow falls to the ground, was watching over these two little birds that would someday build their own nest together. And hatch a couple of little ones of their own. And watch them fly away, too.

So, this ol’ bald bird has been there and done that and understands how all the Momma and Daddy Birds are feelin’ right about now. More importantly, the Father of all Creation and all creatures, knows and understands, too. You see, He once had to watch His beloved Son leave His warm, Heavenly Nest. But, get this also, our Heavenly Father does, indeed, know what’s best and is working to make that happen.

Consider this. When His Son left Heaven to save the world, He was first lovingly cared for by His earthly mother, Mary. And where was His nest? Just some twigs and straw in a salt-box called a manger (Luke 2:7) out in somebody’s barn.

But, in order to do what He was sent to do, our Savior didn’t stay in that little nest forever. In fact, once when they had become separated, His earthly parents found Him in church where everyone who heard Him speak were amazed. Upon hearing his parents concern, He lovingly answered, “Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
So, it’s OK to have mixed feelings. But there will also be joy, as Mary had (Luke 2:51-52) as she treasured all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. This is just me talking now, but I believe He might be saying to parents everywhere who are watching their little birds fly away today, “Don’t you know that I have plans for them?”

It’s August. That means that hundreds of thousands of future preachers, teachers, missionaries, doctors, nurses, presidents and whatever are leaving the nest. Flying away to be God’s arms and legs, ears and voices. To help save other little birds who haven’t heard the Good News.

Fly, little bird, Fly! This ol’ world sure does need you!