On Fledglings, Fatherhood, Femininity, and Foundation

(Photo: Fledgling Doves)

(Previously published March 15, 2016)


An exploration in 4 parts…



1.The Fledglings

This morning, out of necessity, I helped move a mourning dove nest with two fledglings.

It was on top of a broken garage door gear box.  The technician arrived, climbed a ladder, and reached around to lift the fragile nest off the box.

He had a degree in forestry; but had I not known this, I would still have noticed the gentleness with which he handled the nest, and the way he was determined to protect the babies.

“My boss would have thrown it to the ground out of the way,” he said. That silenced us both.

I took the nest, laid it to the side and delighted in a rare look up close at the chics.  Their pinions were showing, the feathers just starting to emerge through tight pearlescent tubes laying against their sweaty brown bodies. They sat, plump little chests rapidly breathing, yet holding still as possible.

Their father, having fled when we arrived, was perched first on the roof, then on the ground, anxious. He kept vigil, hopping and fussing nervously. His panic was palpable. I could feel it inside me.

At one point, we were joined by the tenant’s son, a police officer. He was carrying his own son, a teething infant. All four of us looked down at the doves…


2. The Fatherhood

…Reality suddenly shifted.  I saw a symbolic layer light up around the men. 

It looked so ordinary on the surface: a first time dad holding his drooling son, a young bachelor with life protective instincts, a dove father in orbit near us. Yet overlapping them were the archetypes of the biological dad, the surrogate father, and the father with children in enemy territory.

I realized I was in the midst of different faces of fatherhood, interspecies. Each had their own information in their energy fields on how to do ‘dad’ and ‘man’.  Each considering an angle of problem solving for the nest.

Is that what healthy testosterone does? Guards the territory, the structure? Keeps the environment functional to the purposes needed for family? It’s practical, problem solving, focused and on task, and brave enough to make the decisions needed and follow through? Picks up the slack when the mother is gone?

Yes. Of course.

This kind of strength, combined with tenderness, is all evidence of caring for young. Whether it’s in a male or female body, here is this hormone playing out.

It’s the estrogen and progesterone in us that court and grow and nurture life, but it’s the testosterone in us that shelters and sparks and strengthens it.

Wow, that’s really beautiful!

…And, easy to take for granted.

That’s because for the first time in humanity, testosterone is starting to take a back seat to the variety of xeno-, metallo- and myco- estrogens we are exposed to through the environment, food, and lifestyle choices.  More estrogen means not enough testosterone.  (Which is a game changer in so many ways, including fertility.)

Personally, I feel that when we see a healthy display of testosterone, it is cause for pause -and appreciation-!  It is a miracle of nature, just like birth, just like nursing. It is the driving force of survival and sex and physical strength. And I hope that those men will pass on this strength to their children. Our species may depend on it someday…


3. The Femininity

The gear box was fixed.  We settled the nest back atop the new motor, cleared the area, and hoped for the best.

Will life return to normal for the nesting family? I imagine so. It’s been their spot for years, and their dad stayed amazingly close.  Which bodes well for continuity.

All this played out within a few blocks of where I was born and raised, and where I first learned to ‘tomboy’. And how amazingly suitable that at mid life, my ‘crisis’ has involved making decisions that take a stand for my worth as a woman.   In doing so, I’m recognizing it’s finally safe to lay the tomboy down, in the neighborhood where she began.

I thank her. She was stubborn, cheeky, and intelligent enough to wend her way through the world on her own adventure for 20 years of national and international healing escapades. Maybe I’ll rock those hiking sandals and skirt again someday! But for now, I like to garden, to cook and mow for my folks, to rest, to work as a healer in the community, and to nurture my family close and generously. All aspects of my femininity I struggled to balance, and even own, before.

And these female energies?  All that estrogen? That progesterone? They notice the testosterone.

Thank goodness, because it takes both. Both in us, and outside of us.

At any given moment.


4. The Foundation

In all of this, I see that the nesting places where our life sparked still holds something creative for us, years later.

Perhaps ‘we cannot go home again’, but perhaps it is the one place we most need to go, and don’t admit to ourselves. In the end, there are things we can only understand about ourselves (and others) by doing so.  Reconciliation becomes part of the reconnecting and revisioning of our life forward.  Perspective shifts.  We grow again.

For this reason, we must be brave, and seek out our territory and nurture what it fledges within…

…like doves on top of garage door engines. And fathers (and mothers). And our hormonal balance.  And a woman’s own body, and purpose, for herself.

May all growth, and the keepers of growth, be celebrated.


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