Sheltered by His wings
We have been enjoying much more time in our garden the past few months and it has given us the opportunity to observe, more closely, the wildlife there.
A pair of blackbirds built a nest very close to our backdoor and our activity in and out of the door didn’t seem to concern them at all. They evidently felt it was a safe place. We watched, with growing admiration their parenting of the brood, how they gently incubated the eggs, the period of continuous feeding as the babies grew and then for a few days after fledging, their watchfulness over their young in the garden until they were strong enough to be independent.
Almost as soon as this nest emptied a pair of pigeons selected their nesting spot just above our sitting room window, under the eaves and safely hidden in the wisteria. The mother bird watched over her two precious eggs and was alert to everything going on in the garden and we loved hearing her gentle, reassuring cooing to her young.
I have found these two experiences such an inspiration and have thought a lot about all the spiritual qualities I have seen expressed.
On researching the word ‘nest’ I found some beautiful descriptions – a sheltering structure or place, a secluded retreat, a protecting and supporting form. The qualities of father and mother hood have also been inspiring – gentleness, constancy, protection, reassurance, patience, selflessness to list a few.
In these past months there have been times when I have needed to specifically pray for myself, my family and the world to acknowledge that we are all in a sheltered place, watched over and protected by our Father Mother God. As God’s children we are greatly loved - no one is excluded from this Love. God’s Love is all-inclusive, all encompassing and all protecting.
One of my favourite passages in the Bible is Psalms 91 and I pray with the words whenever I feel I need comfort and reassurance, mental strength and healing inspiration. The New Living gives this translation of some of the verses:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord, He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.
A new fledging stands on the edge of its nest, trying to find the strength and confidence to fly, looks out at a new environment that must seem imposing and unfamiliar. Recently we might all have felt this way too. The past few months have been challenging on many levels. There have been many fears relating to the pandemic, for individuals as well as families, such as contagion and vulnerability, loneliness, a lack of finance, job losses, difficulties in relationships and mental instability.
As a Christian Scientist I pray each day to acknowledge God’s Father Mother Love and protection for us all, express gratitude for His constancy and guidance and rejoice in all His goodness that I see expressed around me.
I have also been thinking about how the qualities of a nest, that sheltering structure or place, that secluded retreat, that protecting and supporting form, can be experienced by all of us, wherever we are or whatever we are doing.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science wrote a poem called ‘Mother’s Evening Prayer’. It is also sometimes sung as a hymn in our services and I find it so reassuring and strengthening.
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.
Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” — watch and pray.
No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven's aftersmile earth's tear-drops gain,
And mother finds her home and heavenly rest.
So now I am intending to take my ‘nest’, my mental ‘sheltered place and secluded retreat’ with me wherever I am and rest assured that the Father Mother’s Love and mighty wing is sheltering all of us, all of the time.