This Beautiful Inheritance: What I Learned About Life From The Swallows On My Porch

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What I Learned About Life From The Swallows On My Porch

I had fought them all spring – the swallows that insisted on building nests on my porch. They’d get their nest started and I’d poke it down with a stick. They would start again – never deterred. Mirrors, plastic bugs, rubber snakes: nothing stopped them. I literally watched out my window as one of the birds pecked at my carefully placed hand mirror (intended to scare him away), knocked it down flat, and proceeded to build his nest right on top of it. I resigned and relented to let nature run its course.

I waited patiently for the eggs I knew they’d soon lay in that nest, and my family and I watched as one day, in late spring, baby birds popped their heads above the rim. They’re here, I thought. As soon as they all fly the coop, I can finally knock down this nest once and for all. I was anxious to stop the accumulating bird poop and to take back ownership of my porch without Mommy and Daddy Swallow darting for my head every time I stepped outside.

We waited for weeks and watched until one day, it appeared all the baby birds had grown out of the nest and left to explore the world. But what was this? Mommy and Daddy bird were still hanging around! I thought for sure this nest was just for egg laying, but these two birds seemed a little too comfortable and had decided to stay. My frustration grew. I gave it a few more weeks and finally decided I had had enough. These birds had found a permanent home and weren’t going anywhere unless they were forced out. So one hot summer day, I went out to sweep my porch, scraped the bird poop, and made the decision to go for it. I had given them long enough but this was my porch and I wanted it back. I picked up my broom, turned it 180 degrees, and began jamming the end of it into the nest atop my wooden post. After a few quick jabs most of the nest had fallen to the ground and I looked toward my feet to examine the damage.

My heart stopped.

My hand covered my mouth, and the rest of me froze.
There on my porch were five of the tiniest, featherless baby birds I had ever seen. They were no bigger than my pinky finger, and they struggled to move as they lay in the wreckage of what had been their home.

“There were babies in it!” I heard the words slip out of my mouth, then I glanced up to make sure no one else was in earshot. I had no idea there was a second set of babies growing in this nest by which I was so annoyed.

What do I do now? The babies laid there, strewn out on my porch, barely moving and severely underdeveloped. They obviously had no chance of survival. I had ripped them from their home, their safe haven, the place where they were fed and nurtured. I felt the hard broom in my hand and, not knowing what else to do, mournfully swept the babies off onto the ground. I prayed silently, “God forgive me. I didn’t know...”
I walked inside the house, still numb, and watched through the window as Mommy and Daddy bird flew back and forth in a panic. I had thoughtlessly and selfishly destroyed life, and I couldn’t help but think of the more than one million human babies destroyed in a similar fashion each year…

They’re tiny. They’re underdeveloped. They couldn’t survive outside the womb. But like those birds struggling on my porch, they’re very much alive. But we ignore the facts and we call it “Pro-choice” because it sounds positive and liberating.
I’ll tell you – there was nothing positive or liberating about the dying birds I saw that day. And there was nothing liberating about choosing to sweep them off my porch (which I had every right to do! It was my porch!). Instead it felt like I’d been punched in the gut and was contradicting every moral code I was born with – we are human beings. We create life. We don’t destroy it.

Yet we do. Every twenty seconds actually. Those who have been there will likely tell you they didn’t feel liberated when their babies were ripped from their wombs and thrown into trash cans. They’ll tell you they will live with those scars forever, and for them, I have compassion.  The people I struggle to sympathize with are those who have never been there themselves but boast of feminism and “reproductive rights” and rally and protest and vote for candidates who will keep these options open.

With them, compassion comes less easily.
Yes, there are situations that are hard. And yes, there are babies who, if born, are going to come into awful situations. But that’s when we work and rally and sacrifice for life-giving options like counseling and adoption and pregnancy resource centers. We don’t support babies being jabbed with the end of a broom and swept off the porch! (or much, much worse actually)

I know how I felt when I saw those soft, innocent birdies struggling at my feet. I can’t imagine how moms must feel who’ve given their children the same fate. May they never go through that grief and sorrow because someone looked them in the eye and told them they had a “woman’s right” to do so.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26 (emphasis mine)

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