I feel the pain of the ordinary barn swallow.


A nest had been formed in a humanly difficult spot: a corner ledge just above the main entry into the kitchen off the back porch of the house.  I knew it would be a problem, for bird and man.

When I mentioned the nest to the home owner he told me to take it down, but if I didn’t want to, he would.  I was grateful for his so saying.  I could not. 

displaced-flyingHe did. The mud dauber nest is now gone.  This morning I watched with heavy heart as the swallows flew back and forth to the ledge looking for their home. 

In some deep way I “feel for” those birds.  Displacement must be an awful event.  Forced removal from one’s place contains devastation.  Uprooted, a being is now forced to make another place their home, when anything else is foreign soil.

displaced-homIn similar straits I ponder what it means to have the common, the ordinary, the familiar taken away. The list of questions below have different answers depending on the day, depending on the time of day.

  1. How do you feel when you have been removed from that which is familiar to you?

  2. How do you respond when the commonplace has been replaced and you are without a place?

  3. How do you grieve having been taken from what you knew to the unknown?

  4. How do you withstand the knowledge that what once was, is no more?

  5. How do you go on, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing there is no ‘home’ to return to?

  6. How do we respond when given bad news, the worst news, life-changing news?

  7. How do you plan for the future when your future is “no place?

  8. How do you contemplate a home when you will never see “home” again?

  9. How do you live with “time” since your times have been separated from your place?

  10. How do you consider ownership, work, or your “standing in the community” when you have nothing to own, you have no work, and you stand outside a community?

I ache for those swallows, even now, as I reminisce about it. 

And as I ponder those creatures, perhaps, just perhaps, I have some of my Father in me:

“If I care for the birds, how much more do I care for you?”

Dr. Mark Eckel will be teaching on “suffering” this fall at Crossroads Community Church.

Picture credits: http://www.public-domain-image.com/


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  1. This reminds me of an incident that happened, oh, a couple months ago or so, I’d say. My wife had gone outside to walk the dog, and she’d seen a fallen baby bird lying still in the parking lot. She came into the room and, at first, didn’t tell me anything. Then she broke down and started crying, expressing how she felt like the bird was just lost and forgotten, alone in the parking lot for someone to drive over.

    I comforted her. I, too, felt moved for the poor baby, and I longed for the day when death will no longer have any sway at all. I still long for that day. It is not a travesty only that man dies, but that all of creation also suffers!

    I grabbed up several paper towels and took her outside with me. I picked the baby bird up off the pavement. It was very, very young. It didn’t even have feathers. And I took it over to a tree at the side of one of the buildings. There was a lot of soft dirt at the base of the tree, and it was tucked away in a corner. So I dug up some of the ground, a nice hole for the baby bird. And I placed it in there. Then I covered it back up with the dirt.

    I had my wife help me gather some stones, and we made a ring around the small grave with the stones, and we picked some flowers and laid them upon the grave as well. And I reminded her that not one sparrow is forgotten by the LORD. So whoever may or may not know about the baby bird’s death–the LORD does know.

    My heart feels for these swallows you mentioned as well. Looks like you, me, and my wife all have a little bit of our Father in us. 🙂

    Thanks, Dr. Eckel.

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