The Little Wren That Could

The little wren was mighty. Mighty? How is this so? We’re talking about Wren, right? I mean, Wren. A wren. A little brown bird.

Yes. Why is it that we always think that small things aren’t strong, aren’t wise, aren’t capable? Throughout nature, you see examples of just the opposite. Like the wren.

I never really knew Wren until about two years or so ago when we put up a wren house in the tree off of my back deck. We put up two other wren houses right there on the fence too. Because little wren boys need to have more than one house. They make up their little houses and then they sing to attract their mates.

They set their sights high. They dream big. And they sing.

The little wren girl comes to inspect his handiwork. If she likes it, he has his mate. If not, he has to try again. Or maybe she’ll like one of his other two nests. Or maybe he’ll have more than one little wren friend!

Our Century Farm house - that's Mom and Dad. The Wren's nest is behind them between the two doors.
Our Century Farm house – that’s Mom and Dad. The Wren’s nest is behind them between the two doors.

We have wrens at the farm too. You can hear their sweet song at a distance. We have wren houses. And we know that wrens existed before people made wren houses, so they must make houses in nature, somewhere. Maybe in a tree with dense leaves? I know Wren at my house loves the little wren house in the tree the best.

This summer has been beautiful, and Wren has been back at home at my house – same nest, he has his girl, they are having wren babies. It’s July and by this time they’ve had little wren babies. And it’s the same at the farm. I wrote this on my last trip there over the 4th of July …

There is lots of action on the front porch of our old farm house. There’s an old barn swallow’s nest on the porch above the door. Between two doors really – the door to the living room and the door from my bedroom to the front porch. You’ve got to love these old houses – this one built around 1904 – with all the doors and windows to catch the cross-breezes.

Reports have it that the barn swallows built a new nest this spring but promptly abandoned it. Fast forward to now as Wren starts carrying sticks and twigs in his tiny beak. He flies them up to the front porch gingerbread, sitting there, and then flies over to the barn swallow nest. He does this again. And again. And again. He’s still doing it, two days later. He’s building his little wren condo.

Between twig runs, he perches on the porch gingerbread and sings. Then he gets more twigs. Sometimes he drops his little twigs and has to pick them up. Work up his courage. Figure out how he’s going to do it. He sits on the porch floor. Then he sings. He thinks about it. Then he sings some more. Then he flies another twig up to his little house.

He’s making a little roof of sorts on his house with those twigs. Mom says this is unheard of. I say what do you mean? She says wrens never do this. They never use someone else’s nest. It is absolutely unheard of.

Wren's condo made from the abandoned Barn Swallow nest at our Missouri Century Farm
Wren’s condo made from the abandoned Barn Swallow nest at our Missouri Century Farm

She goes to a reunion planning meeting and comes back. Mom has a report. She told my uncle and the other folks about this wren. They said nope, no way. Wrens don’t do that.

It’s simply unheard of.

Sound familiar? We don’t do that. It’s unheard of. We shouldn’t do that. Or we can’t do it because we’ve not done it before. How do we know it will work? What if we fail?

We can’t accept it in our lives, so we need to puzzle out why the wren is doing this thing. This unheard of thing. It appears to be working for him. Well we’re waiting for his new girlfriend to show up still, but the process of nest-building appears to be successful. He keeps tweaking it.

I think we all tweak things. Sometimes we drop a stick. Sometimes it falls into the crack and it is lost to us. We thought we wanted that stick. It’s gone. Then we go find a new stick. And we find it is just perfect! It is the perfect size stick. It fits just right. It builds us the best house, a much better house even.

Wren doesn’t care that he lost a stick. He doesn’t care that he flies back and forth to get more sticks. He is a wren. He is singing. He isn’t lamenting his stick. He is in the moment. He is song.

We are afraid to lose our stick. If I let go of this stick, what is going to happen to me? How will I be successful? How will I make money? What if I fail? What if I lose my stick?

Wrens don’t do that. They live in the moment. Each failure is not a failure to a wren – we just call it that. It is an opportunity for a better stick, for a stick just right to build out his happy little nest.

How do we know wrens don’t do that? Are we a wren? Do we see everything that wrens do? Sometimes we assume that the story will end the same each time for everyone else because it did for us.

We also label things. We have to put them in a box. We can’t have the unknown – we need the answer. So we see some things occur, and we extrapolate out from there. Our mind creates a story out of what we see. We finish the story. We finish the wren’s story. We finish our story. We finish others’ stories. We make assumptions. When we see something that doesn’t match our story, we assume it is a failure. Something is wrong. That can’t be.

It’s unheard of.

We see wren carrying its twig to the barn swallow nest. Surely it is not building its nest there? It’s unheard of. It’s not building a nest. No way.

I tell you, he *is* building a nest there!

Watch for an afternoon, well, all be. It is building a nest. Only if we see it do we believe it.

Just because we haven’t seen it, just because we can’t “see” it or we don’t have that vision, we assume it cannot be done. Wren has that vision, and so can we. Yet rather than create possibility, we are focused on what we cannot do. We internalize what others say we cannot do.

The task is too big. We are too small. You are too small. Who am I to do that? Who are you to do that?

Field of Rye at our farm - reminds me of the Field of Dreams ... "Build it and he will come." Wren did just that...and so can we!
Field of Rye at our farm – reminds me of the Field of Dreams … “Build it and he will come.” Wren did just that…and so can we!

Really? My answer? … So what?! Then I’ll find an even better stick. And maybe I’ll even sing while I’m at it.

Wren is mighty. You are mighty. I am mighty. It’s time to build that nest. One twig at a time. And don’t let yourself or anyone else tell you that it can’t be done.

Thanks to Wren. Small, joy-filled, determined and mighty little bird.

If Wren could do it, we can too.