Kathy Baker: Mourning dove messages

Spring is here! Flowers are bursting into bloom, the sun shines bright and warm and — thanks to the rain we often deplore — the fresh grass is so green that it hurts your eyes. Mother Nature’s little acrobats scamper happily through the trees; animal babies are born; streams and rivers run freely, released from winter’s icy fingers. Robins dine robustly on juicy earthworms, while finches nibble delicately at bird feeders. All of creation is burgeoning with new life.

Meanwhile, however, mourning doves mourn, their voices sad and forlorn, even as other birds trill and coo merrily in the trees. The doves seem to mock the cheerier birds, gently asking, How can you sing so joyously in a world where tragedy surrounds us?

The mourning doves are right. Oh God, why, we ask. Why? Wars continue throughout the world. Famine. Fire. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Bombings. Massacres of innocent people, including children. Starvation. Political viciousness. Hatred. We continue to hurt one another with our actions and our words. Why does misery continue to flourish, like dandelions in the sun, in our hearts and in our world?

How can squirrels scamper and trees get leafier by the day? How, we ask, can grass still grow, how can the sun still shine, how can it possibly be springtime, as the daily litany of tragedies and misfortune continues? And the mourning doves weep.

I believe the answer to our questions, if there is one, can be found in the very nature of spring. In the very nature of life on Earth. Seasons change, circumstances change; we learn and grow and do what we can to understand it all.

The landscape grows more and more beautiful each day. The birds nurture their tiny offspring, the fragrant winds freshen our spirits, bringing renewal and hope to our hearts. Isn’t that what spring is all about?

No matter what tragedies occur, farmers till their fields, now beginning to show promise of the crops to come. Meadows teem with new life as mice, insects, grass and weeds flourish.

Neighborhoods begin to come alive. People appear on the sidewalks and in their yards, like Lazarus arising from the dead. Children ride their tricycles and blow bubbles; older kids toss footballs or baseballs in the street; basketballs smack backboards and swish through nets; people of all ages fall in love, with life and with each other.

Perhaps the mourning doves know best. Their melancholy song reminds us to grieve, yes, but also to live. The doves mate, fly, eat, and rear their young. They sleep, they awaken and they live, purposefully. Though their song seems sorrowful to us, it may be otherwise to them. The doves sing the song they were given, and it is good.

As humans, we struggle to make sense of tragedies that defy understanding. There is much that we will never understand. We will forever ask: Where is the good in this? Like the doves, we may cry, but we are also called to laugh and sing and be happy.

We can never make up for the heartlessness, sickness and violence of the world. We can only care, care deeply enough to do our part to alleviate it and hopefully to prevent its happening again. Beyond that, we are wired for joy. We are meant to recover from pain, to move forward into the sunlight, taking as many of our broken brothers and sisters with us as we can, and to be filled with gratitude for the new day.

Spring is a wondrous teacher. Winter may be harsh, cold, empty, but eventually, grass grows, trees sprout leaves and birds, including mourning doves, sing. We don’t really know the “why” of any of this, but, in the words of Maya Angelou: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

So, let’s sing.

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Kathy Baker is a writer and speaker, a messenger of encouragement who loves to touch hearts and tickle souls with her work. She is the author of “Leaving Adversity Plaza,” and “A Tale of Three Choices: His, Hers, Mine.” She loves hearing from her readers and can be reached at [email protected].