Baby birds

In this week’s Fruit of the Vine, Barbara Mann writes about the lessons she learned while caring for baby birds. She wrote yesterday about the nest her husband brought home “with four speckled, light blue eggs. He was weed-whacking in the gully below our farm and found this surprise. He thought it had fallen out of a tree and been abandoned.” Later, the eggs would hatch, and Barbara briefly shares that “some even traveled to Seattle with us, staying warm from my body heat together in half of a plastic Easter egg with cotton.”

This morning, reflecting on Ecclesiastes 3:1-10, Barbara shares that caring for others – whether baby birds or people – “can often be risky.” An elementary school teacher, Barbara writes of the loss of a rabbit that had lived in her classroom for four years. “She was a lot of work to keep and transport, but she enriched our lives.” Barbara also writes of the loss of her sister 12 years ago, a loss that never goes away. Barbara says it has increased her sensitivity to loss, it has increased her awareness of how she carries grief. “When I freely grieve, feeling deeply the loss that I have experienced, it opens up the possibility to feel joy more keenly in the future. If I wall myself off from my emotions, I decrease my capacity to feel both pain and joy.”

Tomorrow Barbara writes more of suffering. On Wednesday she recounts her efforts to feed the baby birds and how it prompted her to think about the kind of nourishment she needs to flourish. On Thursday she writes of how it can feel crazy to work at something you know will surely fail. And yet you go on.

Maybe you’d like to hear the rest of Barbara’s story or any of the stories we share each day in Fruit of the Vine. You can find a print subscription to Fruit of the Vine in our bookstore. We also have an inexpensive digital version that comes right to your email inbox each morning. 

While you’re at the bookstore, take time to look through our discount books. At the end of July, we go through our shelves and mark down all the titles we’d like to move out of inventory. Nearly 15 percent of those books have found new homes this month, which means that as of today, we still have nearly 200 titles marked down by 40 percent or more.

Finally, Barbara offers a simple prayer: “Help me as I risk loving others.”

In Ecclesiastes 3:10, the writer claims, “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.” I think we help one another to carry that burden by risking love.

Eric Muhr