I live in the rectory of St. Casimir Parish, just north of Stevens Point. Being out in the country I am blessed with the sights and sounds of a variety of birds. Since arriving here three years ago, mourning doves seem to find the rectory a welcome place to visit. There is ample roof space on which to walk and coo, and do whatever doves do. My first year here they used an old eave gutter to nest, but that fell down due to age and rust. The next year they used an abandoned robin’s nest in a roof niche. I’ve tried to be a welcome host and assume a Franciscan spirit, but this spring the pair started to build a nest on the sill outside my bedroom window. I am pro-life, but did not appreciate a wake-up call at 4:30 each morning. So I discouraged the pair’s nest construction. But have no fear, they returned to the old robin’s nest and started a new family. The pair continued to make the rectory their home, but suddenly they were gone.
It was strange not seeing them walking together on the roof, preening and cooing. Then, a single dove began coming. Because doves mate for life, I wondered whether one of the doves of the pair had died and its mate returned to a familiar place looking for another. The dove’s coo no longer sounded peaceful but almost plaintive and sad. Maybe it was coo speak for “I’m looking for a partner! It’s not good to be alone!” Well, that went on for weeks. Then, it was gone.
But, happy ending! Weeks later a pair of mourning doves began to appear. They didn’t stay long and I’ll have to wait until spring to see if “my” pair will return. Yet, this avian experience brought to mind the image of God’s love for us so beautifully described in the Song of Songs. In this love poem, the “Beloved / Groom / God” is searching for his bride / mate / us, calling out to her: Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. The season of glad songs has come, the cooing of turtledoves is heard in our land. Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. My dove, hiding in the clefs of the rock, in the coverts of the cliff, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful!
-Fr. Dennis Lynch