The day after we unloaded a U-haul with all our earthly possessions and deposited everything at our new home, my father-in-law posed this question to Daniel and me: “Hey, do you guys have a chainsaw?”
At that point I wasn’t even sure where I could find two matching shoes, but even if I’d done a better job labeling the boxes, I was pretty sure the answer was no. We’d never had our own yard before, which meant we were pretty lacking in everything power-tool related. Besides, why would we need a chainsaw?
As it turned out, Daniel’s dad had identified a knotty pine tree that was encroaching on the driveway of our new house, and he was ready to take it down. The guys went outside to scope it out, only to return soon than I’d expected.
“No need for a chainsaw now,” Daniel said.
“Really? Why not?”
“Come here. I’ll show you.”
And there, in the lowest branch of the tree, was a dove perched on her nest.
“We can’t take down a tree with a nest in it,” Daniel said.
He was right. We’d spent the past 48 hours packing and unpacking, carrying unwieldy objects up and down stairs, and generally boycotting sleep to get everything settled. We were just beginning to realize how much work is involved in making a house a home. How could we have the heart to evict our feathered tenant?
So we let her stay.
We’ve been causing quite a commotion in the dove’s neighborhood ever since we moved in—hauling in boxes, revving up a borrowed lawnmower to cut the grass, cleaning long-neglected gutters. But Mama Bird just sits on her perch—not squawking at us, but not budging either.
I greet her each evening when I get home from work, walking past her home and into mine. She and I have a lot in common, I think. We’re both feathering our nests, trying to make them comfortable and hospitable and conducive to life.
This is the first home my husband and I have bought together, and there’s something special to be said for that. He moved into the condo I’d bought before we got married, and while that was practical and logical and right for that season, it never really felt like ours.
And what I’m learning as we settle into this place together is perhaps the same thing our nesting guest intuitively knows: It’s more about the ones in the nest than how perfect the nest itself is. Our nest is a little messy (there are boxes still to unpack and items flung rather haphazardly in closets), and it certainly isn’t Pinterest worthy, with its mismatched color schemes and kitchen tile that dates to circa 1987.
But that’s okay. I want this place to be a haven—a place where everyone who lives here can recharge and soak up grace and love and get ready to go into the big world. And I want it to be a place of hospitality—a place where everyone who walks through the door feels wrapped in warmth and welcome, a place where they get a taste of grace.
I want to remember that it’s not about the nest; it’s about the ones the nest is there to protect and nurture.
So we still have a knotty pine tree in our front yard—along with one wise bird who has a lot to teach me about feathering my nest.
Home is the nicest word there is.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
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A Place to Call Home