This super essay is written by Heather Wood: You will discover many ideas and meditations within this piece: Thank You, Heather, for this submission:

Heather Wood

The Bird House – For many years, long before I came to live here, there had been an old terracotta birdhouse feeder hanging on the trellis. Its colour had long since faded to pale orange with a coating of green algae on its sloping roof. The chin holding it onto the apple tree trellis rusted and worn.

I cannot recall ever seeing a bird looking in it or landing nearby unlike the other bird boxes that are subjected to intense inspections every spring before being inhabited by pairs of blue tits. I expect it would have hung there motionless and ignored for a while longer had it not been for the raging storms and gales earlier this year when at some point the rusted chain gave way and the Bird House came to land on the grass below. Perhaps if it had been new and shiny and fired in a kiln it would have survived the fall, but no, the years of frost, sun and rain had weakened it and it broke into several pieces. There is lay until the start of spring when we again ventured out to survey the damage.

Even when I noticed the broken pieces it took a few moments to realise where they had come from. I carefully collected all the pieces I could find and carried them to the greenhouse where they were left to dry out on the bench.

Fast forward to last week and following a closer inspection using two pairs of hands and a mastic gun, the Bird House was glued back together. Notice how I did not say repaired, this is because it wasn’t what you would call restored to its former glory.

There is a hole in the roof where the chain was once attached to a hook, the base has crumbled away in the centre, there are rather more ventilation holes than before and an irregular seam of pink mastic showing where the cracks once were.

One could ask is it worth saving? To which my reply is a definite ‘yes’ because this Bird House now has a story, a life, is part of our garden narrative. I now look on it with affection and satisfaction. Something insignificant and part of the scenery will now take pride of place in a border, a planter or flower bed. It will be repurposed or rather now actually have a purpose; as an insect hotel, a place where bumblebees and other wildlife can seek refuge and make a home.

So today, firstly, take a look around you, in your home, in your garden, if you are lucky enough to have one and really see what is there.  Sometimes, oftentimes, we look without really seeing or thinking. Yes, the Bird House is old and has bits missing. It has huge cracks held together with filler but it has gone from being a thing without purpose, part of the scenery to a much-cherished item, loved for its imperfections and helping some of the most important creatures on the planet. What have you got that could be recycled, reinvented and re-loved?

And secondly, take a look at yourself. I’m sure you will agree none of us is perfect, none of us has all the answers but what I do know is that we all have a purpose, a reason for being here, a reason for just being. 

Don’t wait in the wings, hanging on the fence an observer in your own lifetime, likewise try not to wait to be pushed or knocked off balance before taking action. But if you have delayed, have held back for whatever the reason. If you are feeling cracked or broken, faded and worn remember it is the heart and soul that holds us all together in this journey we call life, and life never moves in straight lines, it twists and turns, sometimes going back on itself, up steep mountains and down slippery slopes.

Don’t wait until you think you have perfected your skills, or you think you look perfect or sound perfect because the opportunity will be gone, the chance missed. Remember we are all perfectly perfect in our uniqueness. We are all perfect for the task we are here to do at the stage of the journey we are on. And yes, there will be times when we feel we have made mistakes or feel foolish, that others are brighter, smarter, sharper, dare I say younger. 

But that will always be the case and the lesson we need to learn is that life isn’t about comparing or competing. Nor is it about pushing our way to the front or hiding at the back. It is about finding our purpose, our path and as we tread that path helping others to find and walk theirs. Always remembering that we will all at some point need our pieces picking up and glueing back together. Be kind my friends both to yourselves and to each other for now more so than ever before.

Heather Wood


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