This is a Mother’s Love

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“...the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” – Gerard Manley Hopkins

M_KellySilent and still, like a gray stone nestled inside the evergreen, she is almost but not quite hidden from the world. Tucked in and under, behind the bushy green branches, a Mourning Dove sits on a nest like none I’ve ever seen. Wide and spacious, it opens out around her like a cupped hand holding her body, her warmth, her eggs.

She caught my eye one day gathering sticks near the foundation of our house. Her body, soft and gray, moved with purpose: picking, choosing her wares before flying to the pine tree, then back again for more. Later, my kids confirmed the nest and the eggs it held: her treasure, hidden.

Waiting for the bus with my older kids one morning, chilled by April’s soggy wind and rain, I think of her sheltered there. What wisdom led her, I wonder, to that place of safety, that tiny harbor within the boughs of the evergreen tree?

I’ve never been a fan of evergreens, too dark and dense they filled the forests of my youth with drafty shadows. Filtering the light and dropping browning acidic needles, they nixed any hope of green grass growing near their base. No, I’m not a Pine tree lover–give me a fresh cut Fraser Fir or Douglas for Christmas and I will be set until next year, thank you very much.

So, don’t ask me how, after nine months of waiting, we ended up living here in this old farm house banked by lines of evergreens that cut the wind as it crosses open fields. Stately Hemlocks standing single-file divide the property, forming three sides of a cross. An old tree stump near the road names the place well, “Pine Ridge,” and here our house sits, sheltered, not so very unlike the nest within those branches.

What wisdom, I wonder, led us here to this spacious and sheltered place where my boys run giggling across the fields, laughing so hard, they can hardly take another step?

Watching the Mourning Dove, wondering as my own life unfolds, it dawns on me–this wisdom, this leading, this is a mother’s love.

This wisdom and knowing, the instinct to seek and find, to make and protect a place of flourishing for one’s young. This love that broods and waits, sheltering with wings soft and gentle, yet stronger than stone. A mother’s love is wise and wide, spacious like that nest, it opens out around the ones it loves, like a cupped hand, sheltering.

This, I know, is God’s love too. God moves in our lives like that gentle dove, winging with purpose and passion, God carves out a place for us, piece by piece. God’s spirit broods over us, over the already-but-not-yet of who we are, warming, waiting, as we are formed in that place of loving care and protection.

Here in the pines, this is where I live now, the place where I am learning to live and flourish. Here in the shadows, the shelter, of this great Mothering love.

A love that leads her little ones, that bends and gathers and lifts–this is a mother’s love and it is God’s love too. Love that is wide and spacious, opening out around us all like a cupped hand, holding, so that the life that waits within us all might also, in good time, flourish.

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About Kelly:

Kelly-Chripczuk-picture-150x150Kelly Chripczuk is a mother of four, writer and spiritual director. She believes firmly in the power of “little things” to change the world. Kelly blogs regularly at A Field of Wild Flowers. Follow her on twitter @inthefieldswGod.

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Image credit: Vladimir Agafonkin

 

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