The Seasons of Motherhood…

About the bittersweet journey of motherhood and the milestone of graduation…
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A New Rhythm

Artwork by Susana Tavares

Happy Spring…

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

Ahhhhh… Happy Spring! 

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

This fat, little toad waves “Hello to you!” from my garden.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky , is by no means a waste of time.”
Sir T. Lubbock
(pg 11. Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan) 

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

Bluebird eggs!
This nest is on my back porch and I go out 100 times a day to see if we have babies.

“A bird’s egg comprises a wondrous balance. It bears the weight of an incubating parent, and yet is not so thick that the grown hatchling cannot get out.”
Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest
(pg 144, Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan)


Photo by Catherine Whittier© 2012

Momma bluebird sitting on her eggs to keep them warm.

“Incubating birds develop brood patches- areas on the abdomen that are bare of feathers. Here networks of fine blood vessels lie close to the surface. These distribute body heat and keep [the eggs] at their normal incubating temperature- about 93 degrees.”
Alexander Wetmore, Song and Garden Birds of North America
(pg 62, Meditations For Mothers, Elisa Morgan) 

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

Daddy bluebird is protective; he spends a considerable amount of time chasing woodpeckers away from a nearby bird feeder. He also frequently visits the nest. He is so elusive, the minute I open the door or window to take a picture, he’s off~ in a flash of brilliant blue.

“Nest building takes place most frequently in the morning. The male usually guards the birdhouse while the female makes trips to gather nesting material, or he may follow her around.”
Donald and Lillian Stokes, The Complete Birdhouse Book
(pg 48, Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan) 

Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

“Propagation is work. Real work. How a bird manages to charm a mate, design and construct a nest, incubate eggs, feed hatchlings incessantly, and defend it’s territory, seems an exhaustive, if not impossible feat.”
Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest
(pg 22, Meditations For Mothers, Elisa Morgan)


Photo by Catherine Whittier ©2012

The same God that hovered over the waters of the dark and empty earth,
The God who simply said, “Let there be light,” and there was~
He hovers over my heart.

The same God that separated the light from the dark, and the day from the night,
The God that suspends the moon and the stars,
The same God that decided upon watercolors for the sky
and a rhythm for every sunrise~
That God hovers over my heart. 

The God who gathers waters and calls them seas,
The God who asked the earth to bear fruit,
The God who formed the tiny seed, 
The God who fortified the soil with every necessary thing~
That God hovers over my heart.

The great and mighty artist,
The grand designer,
The wild sculptor,
The fierce lover of all manner of good things,
The One who infuses every speck with life~
He hovers over my heart 

This great God,
This smiling One who parts the seas,
This One who weaves with His breath~
Wraps His ancient and expert hands around mine
and whispers, “Create.” 
He invites me to close my eyes and see in color.
This God, this One with laughing eyes,
The One who designed the toad and the firefly,
The bluebird and the flower,
This God~
He hovers over my heart.

Catherine Whittier © 2012  

Happy Spring my friends… He hovers over your hearts!

like a wounded bird…

Sunrise at Truman Lake

Photograph by Rick Hebenstreit © 2006. Used with permission.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I sipped my first cup of coffee this morning. Save for the occasional creak, the house was quiet… even the dog lay sleeping.

This near silence is savory and surreal at our house. You see, about this time every year, we stop feeding the fire in our wood stove and turn off the fans; fans that push the warm air out and fans that suck the warm air in- the necessary distributors of essential heat
horrid purveyors of continuous noise.

That day- the day we switch off the fans- is like a personal holiday for me. Goodbye to long winter months spent listening to the constant drone. This morning, in the bit of day just before dawn, as the fog lingered over the lake, I just sat and listened to the absence of noise.

steam rising from hot coffee

Photograph by Papierdreams © 2009. Used with permission.

As things get quieter inside the house with the days of early spring, the noise is steadily increasing outside. The birds have come home after wintering away. Aviators of all sizes dart back and forth in the sky with bits of grass and string as they busily build their nests; they perch on branches and sing rapturously in a hundred different keys. Ahhhh…. I wrapped the blanket a little more tightly around my shoulders and lifted my cup to take another sip, when, “Whap!”

A bird hit the window.


Photograph by Pete Walkden © 2009. Used with permission.

After I mopped up the mess I made as a result of jumping straight out of my chair, I went to the window to discover a beautiful, little wren laying stunned just outside the back door. When this kind of tragedy occurs, it is always the same course of action; my son, Will, quickly steps in. First, he finds a suitable box and lines it with a soft towel. Then, he carefully lifts the bird off the ground and places it in the box, promising to nurse it to health, but secretly hoping to keep it forever. He places the box in a safe place, away from predators and elements such as, wind, sun, or rain. Over and over, Will visits the motionless bird, gently stroking the still feathers and speaking soft words of encouragement. He waits for signs of life. Most often, the injured bird slowly regains it’s strength and takes flight. Then we all celebrate.

Wren Siblands 15.4.2011 (4)

Photograph by Margaret Holland © 2011. Used with permission.

Today, I spent some time thinking about that little bird. How many times have I flown straight into a window? There have been times I have lay on the ground stunned… either by the stupidity of my decisions in flight- or by the sheer injustice of the placement of the window. Sometimes windows can be so clear… invisible barriers that don’t appear to be in the path at all. God gently lifts me off the ground like a wounded bird, gently stroking my feathers and speaking to me in melodic whispers. He sustains me with the tiniest drops of nutrition and keeps me protected until I regain my strength. He constantly checks on me, hopes for me and prays for me. He doesn’t seem to think about how careless I was to fly straight into a window. He plans for my complete recovery. I am so precious, He wants to keep me… but instead, sets me free to try again.

On the days when I feel like a stupid, aimless bird who has hit a hard window, not once, but again, He nurtures, sustains, and helps me.
As I recover in the restful silence, He teaches me a new song, and sends me back into flight.

Photograph by Roscoe P. Herbtrane © 2010. Used with permission.

the outdoor seat of an unwanted child

lonely child
Photograph by Fayssal Zaoui © 2009 and used with permission

I have taken the outdoor seat of an unwanted child

Lies cover me like layers of dirt,
Dull layers of dirt that look like skin.

I smell the water
but cannot find it.
Even free water can’t make me clean.

My nutrition poor, the cough deep in my chest
The lines in my face draw down
My old friends used to beckon me
but I stay on my outdoor seat.

Don’t want to talk about the dirt
or the curb
or the trash.

Lonely Child
Photograph by Elizabeth Telhami © 2010 and used with permission

I’m brilliant and wise
so they say…
but the dirt won’t let me go.

I fumble hopelessly with tangled lies.
and angrily shove them back down into my cart.
My portable closet of secret important things…
things like
strings and words and shards of glass.
They are all mine and I won’t let them go.

I sit in my heap on the curb
and watch
as the gravel on the street stands still.

Winter clings…
Spring past due,
the skies so dark and gray.

My garbage is frozen in ice
The world, cold beneath my cracked and leathery feet.
I curl up in my worn body and faintly remember green.

Frozen Leaves 07/11/07
Photograph by Fallen Idol © 2009 and used with permission

From under my dirt
I feebly seek You.
In my frozen pools of introspect and failure, I’m convinced You don’t want me.
I hang my head and cling to the cold.
And still….
You whisper.

A voice I know.

A sound so familiar…
like water in the womb.

A comfortable rhythm from before the dirt came.
The truth I can’t seem to believe, a truth I can’t fathom…
but, today,
I’m so tired I can’t cover my ears…

I hear You.

I catch a glimpse.

The me in the wanted seat.

The lies laid bare… the tangled mess unravels
and in this electric moment,
I lift my head and breath.
The sky rumbles and the clouds roll.
Drops begin to hit my head. I won’t run from them.

I won’t hide in my usual doorway.

Rain clouds in the sky..
Photograph by Saurabh Sawant © 2009 and used with permission

The rain falls warm and dirt runs away in little rivulets.
I furiously forget my position and wash in the downpour.

I weep in the deluge.
Today, my cherished trash washes down the street in the gulley
I look up.

I feverishly surrender as I wipe the dirt from my arms.
It is not my skin.

I let my cart go racing down the hill.
Truth pours from the sky.

I set out buckets to receive.

Taking my seat as a wanted child.

Covered in truth.
I will not practice my unworthiness…
but think only of Your radical embrace.

A hug under the microscope
Photograph by Isolano © 2008 and used with permission