By Rev. Pete Hyde
There was something different about that particular morning. When I awoke, I could not put my finger on it, but something was different, something was missing. As I got ready to face another day, I dismissed the wonderings and went about my day, soon forgetting about the empty feeling of the morning. That evening I sat on the back porch and again felt something was missing. Then it came to me. The call of the cardinals nesting in the gardenia bush seemed silent. I got up and eased my way over the edge of the porch and peered through the screen, being ever careful not to disturb the mother cardinal who was so diligently keeping watch over here tiny eggs. I was in for a surprise!
The nest was empty. No, I don’t mean mom was just taking a break from sitting on the nest, but the nest was empty. She was gone and so were her eggs. The small nest, made of twisted brown twigs, lined with feathers, looked like an abandoned apartment in the midst of the many shades of green of the gardenia bush. Surrounded by the smell of blooming gardenias and jasmine, with the flower bed covered in a rainbow of petunias and caladiums just opening their leaves to provide a bang of color, the little, brown, empty nest, having been shaken loose by the wind now lay on the ground like a cast-off from last year. In the midst of all the signals of the new life of spring, emptiness looms. It was the song of the mom and dad cardinals I missed that morning. A tug of emotion ran through my heart. I so looked forward to seeing a family raised in the bush right outside our back porch. I so hoped to see the miracle of life played out right before my eyes.
We have just come through the Easter holiday season, where we celebrate new life and hope eternal. We heard the story again of the disciples who followed Jesus with such inspiration and hope, gathered in a small upper room following the arrest, trial and execution of their leader, licking their wounds and wondering what the future would hold now that all their hopes had been dashed. You see, even then, there was emptiness in the midst of new life. All they hoped for, dreamed of and believed in, was now cast off and buried in a borrowed tomb. Hope was gone. Fear and uncertainty had replaced the dreams.
Then they heard the news. The grave was empty! He had conquered as he said he would, but in a different way than they understood! Hope is renewed. Dreams are rekindled. Belief blooms once again. The prommise of new life is kept. Our lives are full of empty nests that once held our hopes, dreams, expectations and beliefs. But, the risen Lord of Easter can fill those empty nests of hopes, dreams beliefs and expectations with new ones and set us on a new journey that will bring us closer to God the Father. Somewhere in the forest behind our home, the call of a cardinal rang true and clear. It was answered by another one calling in the distance. I glanced over at the empty nest lying on the ground. Again, in the distance, the cardinal called and was answered. I think I’ll leave the empty nest there for a while to remind me that God will fill my emptiness and restore my hope and belief. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the cardinal a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” (Psalm 84:3 – italics mine).
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach Community Church