Balm to Wounded Hearts

April 18, 2020

In today’s paper I read an editorial by Wendy Paulson titled “Nature helps us heal and cope.”  Her words were beautifully crafted.  One sentence in particular spoke to me:  “Nature offers balm to wounded hearts, peace to troubled thoughts, light and life that outshine the darkness and the gloom of the daily news.”

Balm, peace, light and life.  Three families of my acquaintance could use some of that.  But only time can fully bring it.  Three families in pain.  Worlds shattered, lives turned strange, ground beneath them fragile.  One person lost his wife, one person lost her husband, one family lost a beloved son.  (None to the virus, not that it matters.)

And so, the vigil continues.  Nursing a slightly pulled back — I moved something I shouldn’t have — I reach for my best stationery and write some sympathy notes. My portion today of balm, peace, light and life.

In the meantime, the robin family outside my kitchen window is thriving. Two hard working parents. Three little fuzz-tops, beaks sticking hopefully skyward.  Each day they take up more room, and they’ve begun jostling and elbowing each other.

We’ve had a couple of windy days.  I was a little worried about the babies.  But then I remembered that robin nests are fortified with mud. “A mighty fortress is our nest, a bulwark never failing!  One day we’ll grow up and go forth and build our own.  No one will have to teach us, either — we’ll just know what to do.”

Long years ago I wrote an essay about robins.  It seems worth repeating!

American Robin


Just at first light, or a little before,

comes a caroling.


Sweet notes, simple and pure.


Not the ardent “cheer!” of the cardinal.


Not the jubilation of the jay, that blue bandit.


Not the mocker, whose repertoire this year

includes an especially fine “chickadee-dee-dee.”



No, here is the robin,

“a very familiar bird;

recognized by its gray back

and brick-red breast.”


American robin, sturdy fellow.

Commonly seen on grassy lawns.

Not too forward, not too shy.


In song, just a few short phrases, rising and falling.

Just a few sweet notes, simple and pure—

and robin has delivered his message.


Beyond that, he has little to say.


But all day long, his hard work speaks for him.

“Work, for the night is falling!”


I take his message, and try to apply it.