If you were at Unity last week, you will recall my little bird who was building a nest in the plumeria outside my office window. I was fascinated by his persistence. The tree is totally inhospitable for nest building with thick limbs far apart that look like dead sticks once the tropical wide leaves and thick, golden blooms drop to the ground. But the bird continued unbeaten, dropping like a bomb to pick up the sticks that consistently fell and flying back with them in his mouth to start again and again, like a flying elevator. I wanted to help.
Not one to miss a lesson from nature, I was impressed by his persistence in the face of insurmountable odds. It was a lesson in never giving up in spite of major challenges.
I glanced out the window over the week to catch a glimpse of my industrious birds, looking forward to watching them in the future as they moved in and started a family. They no longer occupied the tree. At last, with concern, I went outside to look at their engineering marvel close up. All I saw was a helter skelter collection of odd-size twigs that balanced precariously, the remains of any that might have resembled nest-building at some point. It was obvious that the potential new home for Mr. and Mrs. Bird and their young was abandoned along with my lesson in perseverance.
I pondered my birds as I walked on the path at the beach, another grand experience with nature that seems to open the mind to new possibilities. At some point, the Serenity Prayer, adopted by many twelve step groups, came to mind. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Well, well, my birds did provide a life lesson from nature after all. Even they reached a point where the courage to change the things they could was not sufficient to overcome an impossible situation. They had the instinct to know the difference, and they moved on.
Lesson from nature? Remembering to call on “the wisdom to know the difference” gives us permission to leave the impossible behind and move on to new challenges.