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161: Lessons from a Cardinal Mother

A Mother Cardinal has made a nest outside my bathroom window. With her vermilion beak, bright against gray-brown feathers, she sits as still as a statue. I watch, hoping to see her turn, but while her positions change, I never catch her in motion. Nor do I ever see her mate bring her food. I know she won’t leave her nest which must have an egg or two, but I want someone to take care of her, too. Patiently, dutifully, she sits. Can’t someone bring her something to eat or drink, or relieve her long enough to fluff her wings? I admire her single-minded constancy and dedication to bringing her young into this world.

Human mothers have a similar challenge. No one gives them a break either as they feed and raise their children into amazing adults. Yes, there are some fathers who do a pretty good job of helping, but statistically moms are the primary care-givers and do most of the work.

There’s no point to reiterate the extreme importance of raising a child well. We all know it. The love a parent bestows on offspring is crucial to a child’s health–mentally, physically, spiritually.

Watching college campus protests–two opposing sides imitating, to a lesser degree, the very war in Gaza/Israel they’d like to see end–I wonder what happened to the love these young adults were raised in–or the love of those raised in Gaza/Israel.

We see news of Russians’ war in Ukraine and I wonder what happened to the love they were raised in.

We observe American politicians spue hatred at their rivals, even within factions of their own parties–and I wonder what happened to the love they were raised in.

We listen to religious zealots verbally attack denominations other than their own–and I wonder what happened to the love they were raised in.

We see members of one dominating race seek to hurt a minority–and I wonder what happened to the love they were raised in.

More rancorous examples could be added–and still I’d wonder what happened to the love.

Hate is the very antithesis of love. It is defined as extreme dislike, ill will, hostility, disgust, abhorrence, loathing. It stems from issues of power and control, from anger, hurt, frustration, lack of compassion, and often leads to violence. Hate harms and frightens children, warps societies, destroys nations.

So why do human beings, born in love–just like the cardinal babies soon to burst from their shells–hate?

I’m not going to be Pollyanna here and simply say we ought “love one another” as most intelligent wisdom of the world teaches. Rather, I’d like to explore why we hate.

I read somewhere that hatred occurs when individuals lack self-esteem or feel insecure. This may be so. But at the root of poor self-esteem, insecurity, and most bad traits, we find fear.

Fear is not easily removed. It likes to hang around us, take our attention away from more constructive endeavors. Smog-like, hazy in arrival, fear quickly becomes a thunder storm, pouring its negativity all over us. Clamped down by its seeming power, we give in to it. It swirls us into its own strange muddied perceptions of life. If we don’t get out quickly, we settle into fear, conform to its meanness, and rot. A human being doesn’t always see what’s happening to himself, but discerns fear and hatred rather quickly in others (motes and beams come to mind).

Climbing out of the mud isn’t easy. But we have to. There is no other reason to exist but to love. We have to seek out love’s answers to problems before they bind us in fear which turns to hate. There is no formula, but I’ve witnessed the power of love. I’ve seen it conquer both fear and hate. I know it works. My dad used to say: “Worry or fear is distrust of God because God is Love.”  There I go, after all, back to universal wisdom! It can’t be avoided.

Just like the Cardinal mother’s love for her babies, most of us were raised by loving, diligent parents. Most of us try to reflect that love in whatever we do, in spite of horrific daily challenges. Most of us attempt to repel fear and replace hatred with love. It is a brave struggle but one worth our continuous, patient, efforts. Like the Cardinal mother, we must not give up!

Very early this morning I heard noisy chirping. The mother Cardinal’s constant loving care seems to have brought new life into this chaotic world. I am grateful. Maybe today, we, too, can try to bring more love into our world.

Cardinal Mom, unmatted watercolor, 7"x 9," $75. Painted this very day, my Cardinal Mom was my inspiration.

Cardinal Mom, unmatted watercolor, 7″x 9,” $75. Painted this very day, my Cardinal Mom was my inspiration.

Artwork:  Cardinal Mom, unmatted watercolor, 7″x 9,” $75. Painted this very day, my Cardinal Mom was my inspiration.

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