Friday, March 12, 2010

Zen and the Art of Nesting

Long before the pigeon finds a mate, she begins to check the nooks and crannies of towering skyscrapers, spending a few days at seemingly appropriate locations, waiting to find out if the servants shoo her out or if the children in the house are too hands-on.

Then, when she has found that Shangrila in concrete, she begins a journey that is instinctive to her. Drawn to certain twigs and sticks and leaves, she picks them, painstakingly, not yet knowing that that choosing and discarding would be called love in another language, ready to build a nest. She builds it herself, before she finds a mate, before her babies come calling. This need to build, this building, this trust in a promise not yet made - is a fulfillment of a inner need, a craving that is part physical and part spiritual.

There will be many trials: many broken nests, trampled eggs, trappings and hurt, and the pigeon knows of these, but her routine never wavers, guided as she is by a need so personal, a meant-to-be that brings a wisdom unlike any that she has learnt.

For me, this need for nesting has come after I found my mate, and made my baby. My twigs are not made of wood or bark, but I still choose and discard, painstakingly, building a nest that is not tangible, and yet one that is real enough to shelter and nourish, and strong enough to help set free. My trust too is not dependent on promises made.

"Your life is your practice," says Zen writer Karen Maezen Miller. I build and I savour my efforts and my mistakes, the knowledge in my weary bones and hopeful heart that I'm building something I needed to.