Leaving the nest

How to find the confidence to gracefully move forward.

When it was your turn, how did you leave the nest? I'm not talking only about the first time you left home, but rather the many times you stepped out into the unknown. How did you find the courage to try?

I thought about this question recently when I was helping my aunt find a new place to live. No matter how many times we made lists or asked the advice of others, our conversations ended with her telling me she would think about it. Months passed, and it seemed that decision day would never arrive. I rapidly grew impatient.

By this point in my life, however, I had learned to rely on another source for answers. Rather than trying to come up with an answer on my own, I had become accustomed to listening and watching for God's guidance. I tried to see things from a more spiritual view.

One day, as I prayed about my aunt's situation while sitting in my backyard swing, I noticed some activity around the neighboring birdhouse. A bird was perched at the door while two other birds sat on nearby branches, one on either side of the birdhouse.

I saw the bird at the door vigorously flap its wings while at the same time holding on tightly to the perch. When the flapping stopped, one of the other birds flew back and forth from branch to house several times. There seemed to be some communication going on. Flapping would begin again. Then the other bird would fly from branch to house and back again.

It wasn't long before I realized these were two parents encouraging a young bird to try to fly. The young bird seemed to be communicating … flap, flap, flap.… See? The equipment doesn't work! I can't fly!

How interesting, I thought, that a bird might hesitate to fly. How unexpected. Then I saw a link to my own dilemma. Could it be that my aunt, full of life experience, was hesitating to make the decision that was facing her – a decision that seemed so simple to me?

Returning to the birds, I noticed how patient and encouraging the parents were with this young bird. They were persistent and loving, never squawking or demanding. It occurred to me that maybe God was encouraging all of us – the young bird, the parents, and me.

In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds" (p. 4). In the same chapter (titled "Prayer"), she wrote, "If our petitions are sincere, we labor for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly" (p. 13).

My answer was immediate. I felt the needed confidence to continue, gracefully, patiently, lovingly, to encourage my aunt and support her for whatever time she needed. My desire was sincere, and my effort was no longer labor. I had been rewarded openly – with inner peace. The fledgling did learn to fly and left the nest that day. So did my aunt eventually leave her "nest." On her new horizon waited years of meaningful activity, new friends, joy, and song.

Fixing your gaze
on the realities supernal, you will rise to the spiritual consciousness of being,
even as the bird which has burst from the egg
and preens its wings
for a skyward flight.

Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures"

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