The Wisdom of Nests


The bird a nest, 
the spider a web, 
man friendship.
                   -William Blake

When I learn something new,
and it happens every day, 
I feel a little more at home in this universe, 
a little more comfortable in the nest.

                  -Bill Moyers


Last night I sat with a friend on the shores of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a little sliver of a beach, a sandy swath a mere twenty feet wide.  Though this beach was small, it was still a beach, and it was a delightful place to sit beside gentle waves.   Two years ago, when I was teaching high school in Bushwick, this was my refuge on Sunday evenings.   This was my escape from the chaos of school and neighborhood.   

Visually it is always calm down there.   The world sorts out into expansive bands of water, land, and sky.  The dark blue East River stretches towards the Manhattan skyline.  And these cliffs of stone and windows give way to an ever-changing sky.  Last night, a fabric of light clouds blew northward.  


Heading outside at sunset is one of my most common rituals, for I try to make it happen every day.  This ritual is in response to an innate calling, a prompting that is far from unique.   In fact, it seems nearly universal.  Families, children, couples, loners - all gather on our little urban beach.   

I wonder how many people worldwide pause beside the sunset each night?  And as the sunset crawls around the globe, are there not people pausing by the sunset at every minute of every day?     


If the sunset is the day’s natural time for reflection, does autumn carry this same spirit?   Is the fall the sunset hour of the year?   

In my earlier writings on wisdom, we found that the root of the word wisdom is the same as the root word of view.  Wisdom is akin to climbing out of daily life and up to a hilltop, or perhaps, out to a sunset, to look far, to change the layer of our focus from the local to the broad, from this street to this city, from this day to this year.   

In this way, wisdom broadens our view.  
Wisdom frames.  
Wisdom nests. 

It surrounds.  It supports.  It gives context.  
A solid sense of what you are trying to make of your life will orient this year.  A vision for the year will orient the season.   A vision for seasons will orient the months, the weeks, the days.  
Do they match up?  If not – where is there a disconnect and how can these be resolved? 



the hour
nests within the day
nests within the week
nests within the month
nests within the season
nests within the year
nests within the phase of our life
nests within the entirety of our life
nests within the great chain of human history
nests within
                     nests within
                                           nests within