HomedotMagisReflectionsWisdom from an Empty Nest

Wisdom from an Empty Nest

empty bird nest - image by llh from Pixabay

It was nearing the end of a weekend-long conference that, with the help of several others, I had planned and directed. Despite the fact that I was on chemo and was dealing with other health issues throughout the planning process, things seemed to be going smoothly for all involved. Organizing the weekend seemed to take most of my recent time, but it had helped to take my mind off my physical problems. Near the end of the conference, I began to feel anxious about what I would do with all the newfound time I would have. I decided some fresh air and a walk would relieve the desolation I was slipping into, as I feared that I had nothing to contribute to life in general after the conference.

And that’s when I saw it. It had landed in the middle of the street in front of me. It was a perfectly formed, intact empty bird nest that had fallen from a tree. Filled with fascination, I picked it up, not wanting anything else to happen to it. I stood there studying this little wonder. Once a protector of vulnerable eggs, it was now empty and vulnerable itself. It had involuntarily left the safe environment of the tree. Lying there in the road, it seemed its usefulness was over. I can honestly say I was relating to its situation. What had happened? How did it come to be there on the ground? But the real question for me was, Why was I so fascinated by it?

The longer I held the nest, the more I realized that it had wisdom to share with me. This nest was reflecting back to me my current state of life. How alike we were!

In its seemingly dire situation, the little nest was teaching me resiliency and purpose. It had survived its involuntary fall from the safety of the tree and had landed in a vulnerable spot. But now its strength was in its resiliency. Like the nest, I am in my later years, vulnerable to the aging process, involuntarily placed in an environment of doctor visits and medicine. But the truth is, I am resilient too.

God is with me, protecting me when I am fragile, showing me how to use my gifts when I feel empty, and generously providing the grace I need.

Even though it would appear that the nest was no longer useful, God was using it for the purpose of teaching me. The conference may have been over, but my life is not. My life still has purpose. God is with me, protecting me when I am fragile, showing me how to use my gifts when I feel empty, and generously providing the grace I need to overcome the desolation that can come when I’m out of my comfort zone. What a gift my late years can be if I trust them to God!

The next time you are feeling lost, go for a walk and take a look around. You just might see something oddly out of place to help you through it.

Image by llh from Pixabay.

Melinda LeBlanc
Melinda LeBlanc
Melinda LeBlanc is a spiritual director in the diocese of Baton Rouge, LA, where she offers individual direction, group direction, retreats, and prayer. She received her certification in Spiritual Direction from the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center in New Orleans and holds a Masters of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University. Melinda serves on the board of the Louisiana Association of Spiritual Directors. She considers it a blessing to be a part of others’ spiritual journeys and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Darrel and entertaining her two cats.


  1. Thanks Melinda. Much food for thought, hope, and action. Wishes for good health and happiness. God bless.

  2. Isn’t it interesting the way we can learn things from inanimate, “useless” objects that are a part of God’s creation. Thank you Melinda for opening your eyes and your mind to this and sharing your beautiful reflection. It is a comforting way of thinking about aging and the transformations that take places.🙏🏻❤️

  3. Thank you Melinda for sharing this beautiful personal story of your resilience. Truly you inspire me to see God in all things and all things in God!

  4. What a beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing your insights – they spoke to my heart and helped me to rethink how I too can be resilient. “ God is with me protecting me when I am fragile.”

  5. What a beautiful story. An inspiration to those feeling lost and vulnerable. Thank you, and God bless, for opening my eyes to a new way of thinking.

  6. Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me. My husband of 50 years recently died and hIs funeral is tomorrow. I was his caregiver for quite a while and I am feeling lost today. Our kids are adults and I am wondering what life will be like even though I know I will make it through with God’s help and knowing others are struggling just as I am. Your empty nest symbolism is perfect. Thank you. I pray that you continue with your healing.

    • Therese, I am very sorry for your loss. I know you were a blessing to your husband. As much as you cared for your husband, how much more does God care for you. Let God lead your through this time of transition. Peace to you.

  7. Thanks for sharing this simple yet poignant reflection on an empty nest, and the gift that continues to be offered no matter what where it lands, or what stage in life we are in. My mom used to say, “life, life, life”. And, now, I’m adding, “It’s all gift”.

  8. This reflection was a giftt to me, like the nest falling at Melinda’s feet. I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 5 years ago, but it was dormant and I have ignored it. My last blood work was not as good as previous tests. I am an open water swimmer and my swim time is decreasing alarmingly quickly. I was cheered by this reflection and eased into peaceful acceptance, and enthusiasm for my family and some part time academic pursuits.

    • Joe, I’m sorry to hear of your health difficulties. Let God lead you through this journey. It seems as though God is already giving you consolation through your family and academic pursuits. God’s peace to you.

  9. Thank you for this piece. Diagnosed October’23, immunotherapy, prevented me from doing the work I am called to. I feel like the empty nest you found. I find daily consolation in waking up each day, trying to trust that God has something in mind for who I am becoming. Some days it’s not that easy. Thank you again.

  10. Melinda,
    Prayers for your healing. Your beautiful reflection inspired me on yet, another ‘dry’ day of prayer. Thank you.

    Today’s Grace: Requested

    The great mystery – God ,
    Whom I cannot really fathom
    Where is the God
    I joyfully imagine?

    Where is Jesus,
    Mary and Joseph?
    Today I feel
    empty of knowing

    Is that God
    Already talking?
    In the quiet wisps
    Between me not really knowing

    Ignatius would say
    Sort-out your feelings,
    Discearn your emotions
    (And above all else)
    Trust that God is knowing

    After a lifetime
    Of doing…doing…doing
    Helping my family
    Now gone and growing

    I’m faced with a world
    Its problems now clear,
    Affirming the collective,
    And those who are controlling

    I look for a world
    Of considered affection,
    Where is the joy?
    Pure of knowing

    I look at life’s garden
    plants, animals and people,
    All of God’s kingdom
    Never fully knowing

    Wondering how Grace
    Will inspire me today,
    Or, will be
    Just another day?

    Where will I be?
    What will inspire?
    How will I see,
    What You desire?

    Some people like us
    Others do not,
    How do I react
    When mostly it’s – not?

    That is the Grace
    Required of me,
    As I walk through your Garden,
    This beautiful day.



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