Monday, September 7, 2009

The Poetics of Robins

Last spring, I had a battle with a robin. She was trying to build her nest on the transom above my front door. Each day she brought endless amounts of debris from my garden and each day, I used my broom to sweep it away. She, or maybe it was another robin, had built their nest in the exact place two years ago and for a few weeks I couldn’t use the front door. But the worst of it was that in that precarious place, one of the babies had fallen to its death. I didn’t want to have that happen again. So I kept sweeping away the grasses and each day she brought more. We were both determined. Then one weekend I was away for three days. And when I came home, boom! There was a solid, mud-packed nest. I climbed a ladder inside my house and peered into the nest through the transom window. Five small blue eggs nestled in the bottom.

I am reading the book, “Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet”, by Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest and theologian, who is an exponent of Creation Spirituality—the belief that we are born in ‘original blessing’. In his book on creativity, Fox speaks of how it is a lack of trust that keeps us wallowing in our noncreative state. He refers to the book “The Poetics of Space”, by Gaston Bachelard, who says that ‘trust can begin with the simple act of examining a bird’s nest, for when we examine a nest, we place ourselves at the origin of confidence in the world….Would a bird build it’s nest if it did not have its instinct for confidence in the world? A nest is a sign of optimism. It knows nothing of the hostility of the world…A dreamer might say that the world is the nest of mankind. For the world is a nest and an immense power holds the inhabitants of the world in this nest. And with this trust, creativity and imagination come to life.”

I was fearful for the robin’s creative work. And now, as I look at my artwork, I wonder in what way I might be limiting myself or not trusting. The robin approached her creativity with full trust and optimism and dogged determination. Within a short time, four of the eggs hatched, grew wings and flew away.


  1. What a beautiful photo and beautiful message you have here. As artists I believe that we must take risks and live on the edge. I recently fostered a too young to be CatMom and her 6 kittens. One by one 5 of them died. I expected the 6th one to die too, but she made it. I was not heartbroken because I realized that I had the opportunity to save the mom from euthanasia. The surviving kitten was a surprise bonus. You never know what will come from life, your art, or from nature. Being a part of it always exposes something awesome and positive. Thanks for sharing.

  2. OH Mindy, what a beautiful comment on my post and what a lovely story of your cat and kitten. I think it's important to always keep ourselves aware of the connections between our world and our work....the lessons and surprises. Thanks

  3. Hi Janice,
    Thank you for your post. I strongly believe that art is rooted in optimism, creation and faith, and, as you so well put it, with trust and determination. I also would like to add that I really enjoy your blog, and look forward to more of your posts
    Anne Fraker

  4. HI Anne,
    Thanks so much for your comments. We have the same sense of our art I see.