If Mockingbirds Sing in the Darkest Hours, So Can I

Northern MockingbirdI like the idea of taking time to reflect on a regular basis—and not just at the end of a year. Maybe next time, I’ll do about post about what I’d like to learn in June so that I can compare my goals to my experiences.

1. If Mockingbirds can sing in the darkest hours, so can I.

I’d love to sit down and have a conversation with Harper Lee about mockingbirds. For the past three weeks, a mockingbird has spent the long, dark lonely hours between midnight and five am singing his heart out near my bedroom window.

At two this morning, I woke up to give Pedro his pain medications. This involves turning on lights, helping him stand and finding him food to eat along with his meds. Thankfully, he just has to suffer through 24 more hours of his clavicle bones grating against each other and sending sharp jabs of pain throughout his body with every movement.

I confess that the mockingbird has annoyed me. Yes, it’s an innocent bird and all it does is sing. But it seemed to exacerbate an already bad situation. I had thoroughly woken up and I felt like I would never fall back asleep. But since Harper Lee said you shouldn’t kill a mockingbird (as much as I love birds, the thought did flit through my mind), I started to wonder WHY the mockingbird sings—and why it sings during the darkest hours.

You see, this year has pushed us around quite a bit, and just when things started to look better, Pedro crashed on his mountain bike and broke his right clavicle and his left wrist. And here’s where I confess to being secretly whiney about the situation. I have no reason to feel whiney—I live a comfortable life in a wonderful country and I have all of the material comforts that I need.

I had plans, you see. I had planned a mini-birding trip for Monday. I wanted to see the rare Tufted Flycatcher pair who decided to venture much further north than their regular habitat and build a nest in southern Arizona (don’t judge—I like birds). Next week, we had plans to travel to California to help our daughter and son-in-law move to Oklahoma. After arriving in Oklahoma and house hunting with ‘the kids,’ Laura and I had plans to travel to Mansfield, MO to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home (and look for new birds, of course).

But back to the mockingbird. Maybe it sings because it’s cold and sitting on the nest is hard work. Maybe the male sings to encourage its mate who incubates the eggs. Maybe it sings because the silence seems big and the darkness heavy, and the cheery notes of praise pierce the silence and lighten the darkness.

Maybe the mockingbird sings because the cheery notes of praise pierce the silence. Click To Tweet

And if the mockingbird can sing in the darkest hours, so can I. So I started singing the first song that popped into my mind—“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,” (silently, of course, because I didn’t want to wake Pedro up). And I fell back to sleep before the mockingbird did.

2. I can rise to the occasion and enjoy life on the wild side.
Ok, for me, the ‘wild side’ is anything out of my comfort zone—and anything out of my comfort zone usually involves relationships with people. Over Memorial Day, Pedro and I took two of our students camping and mountain biking in Moab, UT. We had a wonderful weekend and both of the young men enjoyed the trip. We didn’t have a lot of deep conversations (but they did talk a little about their lives and families around the campfire the second night), because both of the boys are pretty quiet.

Slickrock Trail in the Rain3. Boys eat about four times more than you would expect. I took copious amounts of food, but our coolers were almost empty by the time we got home. The two gallons of milk I thought would be sufficient for four people for three days? Nope. If you don’t have a teenage boy of your own, and you plan on hosting one, make sure you have lots and lots and lots and lots of food!

4. I am not alone. I read an inspirational story by Jenni DeWitt that reminded me that so many other people out there have shared experiences—we just need to connect and tell our stories and learn to come alongside each other. If you’re interested in Jenni’s story, or if you’d like to sponsor her in the awareness and fund-raising walk she’s participating in on June 5, click here.

5. I actually like podcasts. I’m not much of a listen-to-anything-but-silence sort of person (with the exception of the wind in the trees and birdsongs, of course). But I’ve discovered that a gal can learn a lot about writing, blogging, creativity and platform building by listening to podcasts. My favorite free podcasts are a series by Kirsten Oliphant called Create If Writing. The podcasts are under an hour long, and perfect for something to occupy my mind whilst I exercise (maybe there’s a whole blog post there about how Kirsten Oliphant and Michael Hyatt helped me lose ten pounds…). My favorite subscription podcasts are produced by Michael Hyatt for his Platform University. I don’t know how long I can afford to subscribe, but I’m learning a lot of useful things about life and platform and blogging and using my creativity for God’s purpose.

6.  Even with safety equipment, calculated risks might result in injury. But without them, the injuries would be a lot worse.  Pedro had on a helmet, knee and shin guards and elbow pads (and an iPhone 6 in his pocket), but he still sustained a fractures left wrist, a shattered right clavicle and a bunch of bruises.  What he didn’t get was a broken elbow (thanks to the elbow guard or a broken leg (thanks to the iPhone). He’s scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky has a link-up for bloggers to share their reflections on the lessons they’ve learned in the previous month.

I’m also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory–another source of wonderful reads to inspire you and Words with Winter.

What about you? What have you discovered or learned in the month of May?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • First of all friend I am praying for Pedro and you! I hope the surgery goes well tomorrow. Second, I am learning that my identity is not wrapped up in just one thing (such as teaching) and the beauty is that God calls us to many things. Third, I am going to love sleeping in (Ha-not as late as I wish but later than 5:00 am) in just three short days! I love visiting you and love hearing your real life stories!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…When Our Story Becomes God’s StoryMy Profile

    • Thank you for the prayers! He’s recovering nicely and in a lot less pain/discomfort once those bones were ‘plated’ (which makes him sound like he’s being served up by the Iron Chef or something).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Give the Best Gift to Everyone You MeetMy Profile

  • OH, my goodness, Anita. We have so much in common. We are neighbors at #TellHisStory and I am beginning to believe that God orchestrates these linkups according to His purposes.

    I have had a year of “just when I thought it was better …” also. And when I began to come around, it was a bird-and-song story that gave me pause. (I’m not promoting my blog, but that post is in the “website” field if you want to see how our stories intersect)

    So much of your thoughts about the mockingbird resonate with me. And you are the one getting up to administer pain meds but in my case, I was the one writhing in pain and dependent on sweet family like you to take care of me.

    Oh, and the plans. The summer plans that were supposed to be full of ___. I know that well, That was my summer last summer after emergency surgery.

    I’m so excited to find you. I’ll be sharing your post tomorrow and looking around for how else we can connect.

    Embracing the Journey!
    Christi (@ChristiLGee) recently posted…He taught them to drive ~ And So.Much.MoreMy Profile

  • I did learn a bit…I was without email or internet access, from March to June 1, save when I could borrow my wife’s phone to keep my blog alive.

    Thought I didn’t miss it, and that disconnecting was a good old-school way to live.

    That was idiotic. I have a ministry, and the only way I can reach them (unless anyone wants to do pilgrimages to a New Mexico mesa) is through the internet. People look to me for support…I feel uncomfortable saying that, it sounds egotistical, but it’s really like the years I spent teaching.

    Life is simply about what you give. Being disconnected was about taking.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 13 – If OnlyMy Profile

    • Yikes! That would be pretty hard (living without email or Internet). I’m so glad that you’re back and witnessing around the world from your mesa in New Mexico :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Give the Best Gift to Everyone You MeetMy Profile

  • I feel like this entire year has been a painful learning experience. The main lesson I feel the Lord is trying to drive home is that I need to take my eyes off of my circumstances and follow him, and that following his plan doesn’t guarantee a life free of uncomfortable or even painful circumstances. Prayers for a speedy recovery for your husband!
    Melissa recently posted…Easy Vegan Bean and Vegetable SoupMy Profile

  • Anita, I’m SO sorry to hear about Pedro! I hope everything goes well for his surgery. That sounds so hard to deal with. So hard to see someone you love in pain. And I loved reading about the other things you learned. (I have a teen boy, so I know they can EAT!). Maybe one day I will link up and do one of those posts with Emily Freeman. I always enjoy reading them!
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…How Can Busy Women Really Rest?My Profile

  • All these lessons! I do hope all your summer plans haven’t been set aside! So very grateful that Pedro is going to be okay. Whew, close call!
    Susan Shipe recently posted…tasty tuesday – slow-cooker chicken tortilla soupMy Profile

    • Not all of them–we’re pretty adaptable and in the end, things are working out better for my son-in-law because now he’ll be able to move earlier (he found out at the same time as the accident that he wouldn’t have any final exams next week) and look for housing in their new place. God’s plans really are more reliable and more thought out than my own!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Give the Best Gift to Everyone You MeetMy Profile

  • What honesty- I know how when life is beating at me, it is such a challenge to continue on, and yet words from books and songs truly do make an impact.

    I’m so glad I found my way here today!

    Also, I’d like to invite you to join my weekly link up on Reading List. We share our posts on what is on our hearts, bookshelves and minds. This would be a wonderful addition. It opens every Thursday, I hope to see you there1


    Reading List

  • Pingback: Give the Best Gift to Everyone You Meet * Blessed (but Stressed)()

  • Great post- so sorry about Pedro 🙁 May has been an interesting month for me. I attended my first writing conference and have a mountain for things now on my to-do list, but the main thing I’ve come away with this: I’m going to write what God wants me to write. How this simplifies my life as a multi-genre author! Keep doing what you’re doing, Anita… your writing touches lives in ways you’ll never know. Hope you get to see your special birds sometime soon 🙂 Blessings to you!
    Laura Thomas recently posted…How great are your EXPECTATIONS?My Profile