Thursday, April 28, 2011


     When I lived in Michigan, a male robin took up temporary residence on top of my truck mirror. He would lean over and peer at his reflection, and then take flight and crash himself awkwardly into the glass. He did this over and over, probably hundreds of times throughout his springtime visitation. I tried a myriad of ways to keep him off the truck entirely, as his droppings made an incredible mess, but he was tireless and persistant. He kept coming back.
     It took me a while to figure out what he was attempting, and then suddenly, in an instant, I understood. It was mating season, and he saw the most beautiful bird inside the mirror of my truck, the bird he had to have, the one he was driven to mate with no matter what. It seemed bizarre and un-natural, a complete anomaly. I figured the poor robin had a serious screw loose, and was relieved the day he finally gave up.
     And then the next spring, the same thing happened again, perhaps with the same robin. Once again, I chased him off, and once again, he would not leave it alone. I found it disturbing and strangely endearing both. And then I moved back to Virginia and forgot all about it.
     A few weeks ago, I noticed a robin sitting on a tree branch right outside the bathroom window and I was fascinated that he should be so close and not be frightened. I walked right up and looked at him. He didn't seem to register that I was there, and then he flew straight at the glass, startling me. He scratched awkwardly, and then retreated to the branch to regroup for another attempt. Unbelievable! Yet another crazy robin! He's still there today, determined to mate with that bird he sees, even if it takes him all spring.
    And so, in the way I do, I thought about the lesson this bird has to teach me. If I'm honest, I can definitely relate to his behavior. There is a saying that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results." Bingo. There's our Robin, and me too, trying to force something to be what it clearly is not. I speculate coming at the situation from a different angle, from a little higher, or lower, determined to figure it out, to make it work. And I keep on crashing into the glass, and everytime, I am as surprised as the first time. I was so sure it would work out. So I sit, and watch, and justify, and consider, and feel absolutely sure that it is what it isn't, and I take flight yet again.
     Maybe this time I can eat an enormous dessert and not feel fat and guilty. Maybe this time I can feel refreshed with four hours of sleep. Maybe this time I can spend more money on luxuries and not worry about how the bills will get paid... or whatever it is. It's the robin dance, the crazy robin mating dance, and I'm grateful every time I see him plundering into his own reflection yet again, that I am not alone, and that God has sent me a reminder.

I am willing to see things as they really are today. I will let go of the belief that I can make something be what I want it to be with a sheer force of my will.