Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From the Archives: 2008

C.S. Lewis has written that raw kindness does not care so much whether its object becomes good or bad, but only that it does not suffer. God sees wickedness, and not pain, as the ultimate misfortune, and so he is willing for us to suffer in order to make us good. Sadly, pleasure and prosperity rarely make a man or woman better than before, unless the soul has already advanced far on the heavenward road.


Monday, August 23, 2010


In early spring a foolish robin built her nest in the side of our apartment building, right along the stairwell. I could have reached out and touched her with my hand. As I came around the corner, I always stopped to look at her, and she watched me warily with her round black eyes.

After a few weeks came her three eggs, blue and reflective as turquoise stones. During the raging storms of summer evenings, she spread her brown pinion feathers over the sides of her nest, that the eggs might not know a drop of moisture.

My husband and I looked in on her every day. We regarded her as a friend, a fellow sojourner surviving in our corner of Fairfax. We rejoiced and cooed when out of the eggs broke three robin chickens with pink, translucent skin.

But a couple days later I found the nest empty. No chicks. No robin. No trace of shell or feather. They have never returned. I suspect the grey housecat that lives on the first floor. Jim thinks the mother “carried them to a new nest,” which he says either to comfort me or to comfort himself. I cannot believe it.

We still glance reflexively into the nest when we come down the stairs, though nothing changes.

Then this summer there came a mint-green luna moth with a fuzzy, white body and antennae like tiny ferns. Dramatic plumes curled from its back wings. Day after day it stayed motionless by the lintel of our door. Once I made him to crawl up on my finger and brought him into the apartment. I called him Simon, spoke to him, and tried to feed him sugar water, as I used to do with monarch butterflies. I put his feet in the water, since moths and butterflies have their taste receptors in their toes, if they can be said to have toes. But I found out later that it did no good. Luna moths live for only a week, their sole purpose to mate before death.

I took him out into the stand of trees in our complex, hoping that there he might have better luck.