When we non-clergy persons were invited to contribute to the Daily Cups, it was mentioned that our writings would sometimes have something to do with our ministries here. Sometimes they do, but more often not. It’s not often that I have something really captivating to say about network and database administration, training acolytes and vergering services, or plumbing the mysterious depths of the electronic control system for the HVAC in the church and Nourse Hall. But every now and then there is something.
Because I hadn’t done so on Thursday, Friday or Saturday last week, and I had to have it done for an interment this morning, I was in yesterday to move a columbarium stone. Jonnie Sue came in too and indulged her first love – planting and weeding – on the Wisconsin end of the little grassy triangle in front of the west entrance to the narthex. Having a few minutes before a two o’clock appointment to remove some scareware from a computer at a client’s house near the Islamic Center, I removed the second half of the derelict storm door at the parking lot entrance to the Phoebe Nourse Room of the Warner Rectory. Someone had earlier kindly removed the first half, which had long since lost its plastic panels. I carried both pieces over by a shed, and I noticed that the lock was not on the chain that secures four extension ladders. As I was pulling the chain into place to attach the lock, I saw this:
Yes, it is a dove’s nest. The picture is a pretty clear shot of one of two chicks in the nest. When I first saw it, I saw not the chicks but the hen. Where she had gone by the time I got the picture, I don’t know. The nest is resting on the rungs of two ladders that are one in front of the other so that the rungs are on the same level providing a surface about four inches wide.
There is an implication for the choir in this, in that one of two flood lights over the north side choir stalls in the chancel is out. I usually wait until at least three or four of the bulbs high up in the rafters over the transepts and in the chancel need changing before calling in the Light Brigade (Walter Abbott, Tom Jansen, and Bob Witten) to help move the 32 foot ladder into the church and stand it upright and extend it. Yes, I mean the very same ladder that now is a home for a family of doves. So I’m a’hopin’ and a’prayin’ that the second bulb doesn’t go out before the baby doves are on their own. Or I’ll be buying another 32-foot ladder I suppose.
The doves were not the only wild life I saw that day. When I was removing the screws by which the storm door was fastened, I spied the unmistakable red bushy tail of a fox disappearing into the shrubbery at the top of the steps from the parking lot to the side porch of the Rectory. And today as I was composing this I recalled Doug Dykstra telling me some months ago about leaving the office late one night and seeing what he thought was a really large rabbit illuminated by the headlights of his car but which turned out to be the head of a deer bedded down in the grassy area between the parking lot and the tennis court, calmly watching Doug leave. And of late, in addition to squirrels, which are too abundant to be remarkable, I’ve seen the occasional rabbit around the front lawn of the Rectory and around the south lawn of the Cathedral.
We used to have a hawk, and Jonnie Sue saw it one day swoop down and grab a squirrel one morning and proceed to one of the cherry trees and have it for breakfast. We haven’t seen the hawk in a while though.
There is something quite charming about having this wildlife right here in our midst, small in number though they are. We’re a haven for a wider variety of God’s creatures than other people.
What is a proper prayer to close with? I think one cannot go wrong with the prayer “For Joy in God’s Creation. I think it is the first prayer in the Prayer and Thanksgivings that begin on page 814 of the BCP for a reason.
“O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness: for the sake of him though whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 27-May-2014.