In An Instant

Our covered porch has been largely unusable for several years. In the spring, we decided to clean it up and make a space we could enjoy. One night, my daughter, JB approached me.

JB: Dad, we should make the porch a hanging porch where everything is a swing or hammock.

Me: That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

One day later…

Me: So, tell me about this thing you call a hanging porch.

After some hard work and several swipes of the credit card, I’m sitting on the hanging bed typing this post. It was a great idea, I admit. And since we live in the woods, it comes complete with nature.

In fact, a little Carolina wren built a nest in a decorative watering can and she’s very vocal about her property claim to the porch. In the beginning, I tried to dissuade her from building in the can because our neighbor has several cats that often trip the motion detectors on our security camera. Fearing for the safety of future baby birds, every time she started building her nest, I dumped it out. And every time I dumped it out, Mama Wren began building again until I gave up.

Her eggs hatched recently. At first, I knew it because Mama Wren’s angry screeching became louder when I dared enter her porch. Then I started to hear them squealing for her. It was kind of fun watching nature take its course. As they grew, poor Mama Wren flew in with worms over and over. She became a nonstop, feeding machine.

And in an instant… it all changed.

One morning I saw the watering can lying askew on the porch and I knew. I set the now-empty can back on the table. Empty but a few twigs. I find myself very sad about the baby bird’s fate and poor Mama Wren.

Mama Wren came flying in with a worm in her beak and looked inside. No one to feed. No explanation. Her babies were gone.


Things can change in an instant!

We have friends whose 21-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident last week. In an instant, their life tragically changed. I’m so broken for them. I’m so sorry for the loss of their precious girl and the potential that has been ripped away from this world. For the anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays that will have an enormous hole in them, and their new life that is a constant mix of joy and grief. I can only go a couple of minutes without picturing their faces and whispering a prayer of comfort.

Their grief journey will be different then mine. But having lived the unimaginable and being a few years down the road, I wanted to send a message of support. As I logged onto Facebook, I noticed that the last message between us was on February 13, 2015, the day Kylie died. On that day I received a sweet message of love and support. What a circle.


My thoughts put in words today are two-fold:

First: Life is meant to be lived in community, not alone. We are all called to bear each other’s burdens when they are too heavy to be lifted alone.

Second: Love well, say what needs to be said, and make the most of every moment you have. For you never know when the cat will come and your life will change in an instant.


Mama Wren keeps coming. On some trips, she has a hopeful worm in her mouth that she leaves with. On others she warns me to stay away from her nest with piercing threats. When will she know that her work is complete?



10 thoughts on “In An Instant

  1. I love my time when I am on my computer and I can actually let you know I have read your post but also that it is my own little sermon of the day. I just finished writing my friend’s memorial that her husband requested me to read. She fought her cancer for almost 20 years. We were the town on the news that was taken hostage by a sad and lost soul – a crazy gunman that shot 4 of our policemen and killed one transient before getting himself killed. In the wake of a quaratime in this pandemic and riots, I guess life goes on or doesn’t in a way. I always love your word stories. You write so well! I am there as I ease-drop on your conversation with your sweet daughter and hear the wren on your porch and imagine how it turned out… and in those word, the craziness of the world goes away a little. So sorry for the loss of your friend’s daughter. There was a car accident on our back roads the other night where 4 young lives were senselessly snuffed out. It is all just so sad. But your reminder that live goes on even when we think it won’t is much needed today. Thank you!

    1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. I feel like loss is all around and it’s hard to not be made grim by it. But we honor and remember and push on. Blessings friend!

  2. the swinging porch was a brilliant idea, and the birds – I am so sad for the momma’s loss. she is reeling right now. as for your friends, devastating as you know firsthand. there are no words or actions that can make it better, and community is a net to help to catch them until they can stand once more. my sister, my best friend, the one I grew up with sharing a room, one year older, was killed in a car accident in your early 20s. I think of her and miss her everyday. my love goes out to your friends.

  3. Us dancing types are always full of good ideas.

    I’m so sorry to hear about Mamma Wren’s loss, and the death of your friend’s daughter. There has sadly been more than one horrific phone call or text during lockdown and the hardest thing has been to not being able to physically go, hug hold and soak up the tears.

  4. You caught me by surprise with this one. Expecting laughter, encountering tears. Life’s like that, more often than not.
    Beautifully written!

  5. Not sure what happened there.

    I meant to write: Every February my son’s distillery hosts a Bobby Burns Night in honor of the great Scottish poet. It is a night for whiskey, haggis, bagpipes and poetry. On these nights, I frequently threatened to recite his poem “To a Mouse”.

    Usually, the crowd musters enough courage and fortitude to boo me back into my chair, but I often sneak in the first verses.

    Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
    O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    Wi’ bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
    Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

    But it is the last lines that resonates here

    Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
    On prospects drear!
    An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
    I guess an’ fear!

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