The Empty Nest

We got to witness the whole drama, from beginning to end. It began when we noticed the pair of sparrows building their nest just outside our living room picture window. My thought was “How fun this is going to be!”, and I was not disappointed. There followed a period of silence. I kept checking to see if mommy bird was still there because she was so still, sitting on her eggs. But there she was, silently eyeing me warily every time I pulled back the curtains. One day I noticed the unmistakable sound of high pitched baby bird voices. Sure enough, there were 3 babies in the nest, naked, with bulging eyes and bright yellow-lined bills. Daily, I eagerly followed the lives of this family of sparrows, witnessing first-hand the babies’ rapid progress. It was not long before it became very crowded in the little nest. I continually marveled at how three growing babies and a mother could manage to squeeze into that tiny home. Then the inevitable happened. One of the 3 babies was larger than the other 2. At first I thought it was the mother bird, til I saw the remaining bits of baby fuzz clinging to its head. Not long after this discovery, the nest contained only 2 babies. Shortly after that, I realized there remained only one baby, looking rather lonely and forlorn. Finally, it happened…one bright day, little baby was nervously perched on the edge of the nest, pacing, obviously agitated. I could hear mommy’s shrill voice calling, calling. The more she called, the more agitated the youth became. I kept checking on this little drama throughout the morning. At last, one check in the afternoon revealed an empty nest. The last fledling finally had gathered sufficient courage to follow mommy and its siblings. The forlorn, empty nest sat unoccupied for days before we had it removed. It’s almost like I was hoping for the occupants to return, but inside I knew they would not. That nest had served its purpose.

 

I see this little drama similar to our own family’s experience. Three babies have filled our nest – Joshua, Samuel and Amanda. Our home was noisy and busy and full of the normal comings and goings of family life. The years passed with surprising speed, but we were so busy we hardly noticed. The only hint of what was to come was when we would see people we had not seen for some time and they would comment, “Your kids have gotten so big!”. We would just smile proudly and agree. But time was inexorably passing and the children were maturing and mommy and daddy just kept doing what needed to be done….

 

Before we realized it, our first son left the nest to go to college at Messiah, followed a few years later by son #2. No worries, first son came back to visit from time to time…that is until he got married. We had to let go. The next time we turned around, ‘little’ daughter was going off to Elim Bible Institute for a year and second son was married. Oh dear, there goes #2…let go again. We blinked and daughter had finished university, gone to the U.S. for 1 ½ years and returned, but oh so briefly. In just a short time, she will be walking down that aisle to be joined to her new husband. We face the third letting go. I see the empty nest looming before me. Will it be a forlorn, abandoned thing like the one outside my living room window?

 

I don’t think so. You see, God has been busy preparing our ‘nest’ for others who need a ‘home’ while they are away from home. Ukarimu House has been changing and forming over the years as we see the vision taking shape. We see this place becoming a home for students who need the nurturing and mentoring we can provide while they are in university at this formative time in their lives, far from their homes. So, even in the process of letting our children go as they grow up and leave the nest, God sends others our way in need of love, guidance and a home. The process of letting go continues, but so does the welcoming of the new. What a wonderfully wise and loving God we serve!

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