The food of love? Well, we are making cookies today . . .
My granddaughter perches on the kitchen stool, one loose-cannon leg kicking the rungs. She’s chatty, a tad restive. She waves the baby chick cookie cutter above her head. Then, surprisingly, she falls silent, pointing to the decal that spans the soffit. With a five-year-old’s zest she proclaims, “If music be the food of Love, pla-a-ay on.”
“Keira,” I marvel, “you’re reading!”
She grins briefly, then returns to cutting birdies from dough. Keira, aka Kiki, was once a hypersensitive infant we carried around on a pillow. She suffered acute sensory issues. Traumatized in utero by her birth mother’s drug habit, our little fledgling now reads Shakespeare.
Oh, the ageless effervescence of wonder — it tingles all over my body. I’m older than the average grandma, eager to savor each stage of growth while I still can.
As my friend Judi Carlson says, “What piece of our heart did God create to receive this kind of miracle? We adopt fragile children. And those children adopt us.”
Kiki, our impish dynamo, seldom sits long enough to hear a story through to the end. So when did the skill to read click? She’s a girl with places to go, faces to make, boundaries to test.
“All done,” she sings out. “Now what?”
I slide her tray of ginger-bird cutouts into the oven. “Eight minutes,” I say. “Want to see the baby robins?”
We tiptoe to my bedroom window to watch the ramshackle nest on our deck.
Three fledglings yeep and chirr, jostling each other. Then, like harrumphing uncles, they rotate positions.
She wants to know why they are fighting.
“They’re getting too big for the nest,” I say. “And maybe they’re itchy. Look, they’re taking beak-baths.”
[Click & watch] IMG_0548
Chirping, Mama Robin swoops to the lawn, nabs a worm, heads for the nest. She embodies music, the food of Love — countless times each day.
I’ve watched her spread wings and tail over the nest during two hailstorms, her quivering pinions jeweled with ice. She’s giving her young every chance in a world where statistics show only 25% survive their first year.
The oven timer goes off, and we head for the kitchen, Kiki bouncing ahead of me — and off a wall or two. The thought comes to me, she’ll be okay, despite her rough start in life and her madcap ways. The cherishing God who knows when a sparrow falls is with her, and will be, long after I’m gone.
Whoever wrote Psalm 91 knew a thing or two about love: “[God] will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” For now, I’m grateful the Deity shares part of that privilege with me.
Kiki and I frost the cookies and top them with sprinkles. Another gift. The robins, too, seem sent. Vulnerability dressed in feathers chooses my deck. My time. Me. From the nest’s inception to sky-blue eggs to scruffy hatchlings, I’ve eavesdropped on this family-in-progress day after day, for weeks. A living psalm.
Kiki takes bird cookies home to her mama. A few hours later I find the nest empty. Abandoned. I’m surprised by the ache in my chest. And how it spreads.
I would have loved to watch them fly.
Since then, I’ve used this breath prayer throughout the day, the one that’s been singing itself in my head lately, helping me let go.
(inhale) Lord of every (exhale) quickening,
Watching over egg and wing,
How you cherish everything!
Taking flight or nestling,
I live to sing
All that you are, my King.
What helps you release a cherished hope or a beloved being already in flux?