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The Life Is In the Blood

It was not my intention that any should die. Of course, I knew before we opened the vent that it was possible. I didn’t know the time of their nesting; in fact I didn’t even know what type of birds they were. They had made this a traditional nesting spot, and I had let it happen, forcing everyone in my household to endure birds jetting past them as they opened the door, even occasionally flying in to the house. It seemed reasonable that we would have to remove the birds. Still, it would have been far more fair if I had prepared their removal earlier in the season, before they began laying eggs.
When the eggs came tumbling accidentally out of the nesting, three of the four cracked. I heard my son say, “shi…it”. It wasn’t the sort of “sh…it” one says when one is disgusted or even angry. It was a more or less sonorous yet downhearted sort of expression, indicating some sort of sorrow, or disappointment.
“well,” I said, “at least they weren’t born yet. He looked up in total disbelief that I had even said that. Notwithstanding the fact that birds are hatched, and not born, it was clear from the blood that this was life, and it was well on its way to being next year’s pain in the neck dive-bombing around our front door.
It’s true enough that bird guano ends up attracting flies and subsequently maggots, and that’s reason enough to want them out. However, in some Franciscan sense they do have a right to a life, and if they are swallows, which I think we conjectured they might be, they eat their own weight (daily, I think) in mosquitoes, hornets, and wasps. It doesn’t take a mystic to know that Yin and Yang were at work here, and I had possibly upset a balance.
My son was just trying to help me out with a project I couldn’t quite get to myself, and Father’s Day seemed to be a good day to do it. (I’m thinking of writing a book on things to do with your children on Father’s day). While one swallow more or less might only impact a local eco-system, it became abundantly clear to me, if it had not been clear before, that , as the ancient scriptures say, “The life is in the blood.”
If a bird is worthless, which these were not, then clearly the egg is just as worthless, but, if a bird is of great value to the environment, the earth at large, then clearly, the egg and it’s developing embryo are of great value. Where and when did this great disparity evolve, that, a creature can be of ‘Inestimable Value!’ but it’s embryo is worthless. Logically, this cannot be so.
Fortunately, I believe in the power of forgiveness, so I believe that God, his ecosystem, my son, and the birds will all forgive me my lapse in judgment and timing. Humans, like other mammals, are capable of mutual learning.
I am glad for the time I get to spend with my children, the time when we joke and debate, do some tasks together, or sip coffee, plan and dream, or rest and muse, the time that proceeds from my parents, and proceeds from theirs, and flows, even now, from the beginning of time, from that first moment when God indicated, “Let there be Life on Earth.”

Copyright June 19th, 2011 by John P. Schumake


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