Persistence...something many of us struggle with when the going gets rough. Sometimes it is easier, or more rewarding, to persist in situations that are self serving or enjoyable. It is more difficult to persist for the overall good or because we made a commitment, when there is no tangible personal benefit.
Take homeschooling, for example. I will admit, there are days when I find it almost impossible to see benefit to any of us. Another curriculum hits the Goodwill pile. More tears and impatience from all involved. Overwhelming negative energy, when we have to chuck it all for the day and refocus. These days, the elementary school across the street looks awfully inviting. These days I long to stop trying to persist and just give in...clean house, peace and quiet, time to work in the studio, time to get my career back on track.
Then...one day...a mama robin showed up on our front porch. Robins are messy nesters. Mud and straw strewn everywhere until it is woven, piece by piece, into an asymmetrical heap just barely strong enough to hold her eggs. It isn't pretty, but it serves its purpose (a great topic for another post).
So, Mama Robin decides to build her mess of a home on top of the column by the front door. It started with a pile of straw all over the porch, which I promptly swept away. We are selling the house, after all. For three weeks, there was a small pile of straw envy morning. For three weeks, I swept it away. Then the mud started. Black mud piled on top of the column, dripping down onto the porch and all who passed. For another week, we sparred. No real nest yet, just piles of preparation, and my broom. Each time I apologized to her as I swept it away. Two days straight, I swept up a new pile of mud every hour.
How could she be convinced to find another spot?
With threat of more drastic measures looming, I stuck a piece of cardboard up there. She pecked it down twice before she left it alone, but I had won! I had persisted in my fight to keep the porch passable for buyers.
Then I walked out to check the lilac bush this morning...and in another corner, there was Mama Robin, quietly knitting away at her mostly finished cradle. She compromised, but she did not quit. I got my way...a clean entryway. She got her way...a nest in a secluded spot where her babies would thrive.
In that moment, I knew she had a lot to teach me about persistence. It isn't about a stubborn, static plan. It isn't about making our lives turn out just the way we planned. Persistence is a fluid process toward a goal, accepting that unanswered wishes and prayers often prove better than out wildest imaginings. Rivers change course, but meet the sea. She got her nest after all, in an even safer location.
She hasn't been back today, and may have decided I was too dangerous to meet her wee ones. I kind of miss her...and sincerely thank her.
Namaste, Mama Robin.