Amazing Grace – Not Just Any Robin

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  How beautiful and powerful those words ring out, you’ve got to love that old-time religion.  Back in the day,  when my children were little, we lived in a small, rural town in California (population 500) and we attended the tiny church there. On one such occasion, my younger son (he was 3), who was sitting down next to me as we sang this particular hymn, began tugging at my sleeve, keen as he was to get my attention at that precise moment.    Leaning down towards him he whispered into my ear, “Mommy, what’s a wretch?”   Out of the mouths of babes.

What, indeed, is a wretch?  As defined  in Collins English Dictionary, it is ‘someone to be pitied for their misfortune’.  The hymn tells of someone who was once in  a state of spiritual wretchedness but who ultimately found eternal salvation from that state. What I write about here is another type of wretchedness, and certainly not to be pitied for. It is the type  that hits when the weight of everyday struggles puts you close to the floor day in, day out, sucking the life right out of you.  The challenge of getting back up seems overwhelming and utterly exhausting.

One morning a few year’s ago,  that wretchedness awoke with me.  It took hold of my every thought, ingratiating itself  like a nuisance caller as it did so every morning after that. So familiar did it become to me, sticking to me like glue, yet it was unwelcome, and certainly unwanted.

Now I’m not talking about a crisis here, or a disaster or even a tragedy, and I certainly don’t want to whinge on about struggles that may not seem that important or terrible in the grand scheme of things. Something kicks in when an out-of-the-blue disaster pulls the rug right out from under you, believe me, I know, but something profoundly different happens when that steady, relentless barrage of one  problem after the other drip, drip, drips down endlessly on plans and hopes and dreams until they are soaked through to the point of worthlessness, or so it seems at the time.  Such a time such as this had taken its toll, I hoped I would recover.

What has any of this got to do with Sweet Robin? I’ll try to explain.

We have lived in our house in Somerset for 5 years.  The first spring after we moved here, we had a visit from a robin in our garden.  Although I saw beautiful birds in California (not least of all the exquisite hummingbird) I did so miss my English robin! Soon we had a pair of robins who nested in the spruce bush right outside our kitchen door. We were thrilled beyond words, sneaking a peek at the tiny, pale blue eggs (but not touching them, my dad taught me that when I was a young girl) and then the little hatchlings. We did all to  keep our cats away (they are mostly indoor cats and stay in at night).

Nature had another plan.

Returning from a weekend away in our caravan that Easter we were greeted with the sickening sight of a massive hole in the side of the bush, the robin’s nest destroyed with bits of it, and the remains of the still embryonic baby birds, scattered around the base of the bush.  Am I being over-dramatic when I say that we were devastated? We think it must have been a neighbourhood cat as the culprit but that’s what cats do, it’s their job.  We didn’t see the robin pair, nor indeed a single robin in our garden again – can you blame them?

Until, that is,  last Autumn, four years later when a little robin paid us a visit.   Surely it was the same robin who again appeared in our garden on that sunny morning a few short weeks ago, on the very day I wrote my first welcome post right here and who has visited us ever since?  I like to think so…

I take this as a good sign that things are picking up. That fat, cheeky little robin  has reminded me of the enduring power of joy in the simplest of things, which are so often all around us if we just open our eyes.  I’m convinced that Sweet Robin is a gift from God.  Maybe I’m crazy. Yet, here I am, writing my blog.  I am no longer sitting on the sidelines feeling helpless, life passing me by, feeling wretched.    It took me a long time to get the courage to be bold enough to start writing but I did it, I took that first step.

Sweet Robin is back baby, and so am I!!

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri is a writer with work published in print magazines, anthologies and online. As a young British mum of three, she emigrated to California and stayed for twenty years. Today she lives in England's West Country, a full-time carer within her family. Her current WIP after completing her memoir is a psychological thriller.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Life, My California, Sweet Robin, The Black Dog and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Amazing Grace – Not Just Any Robin

  1. jesspayne2 says:

    Love the what the Robin symbolizes for you and how you wouldn’t allow another day to go by with out joy in it! Love this! So encouraging!


  2. Tish says:

    The girl is certainly back!!!!


  3. mumblypeg says:

    Despite your struggles you are an OVERCOMER! You are stronger now and your writing is inspirational. Very well done. Winston Churchill said during the second World War, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up.” You are not alone.


  4. mike xx says:

    I second that !! Keep us posted on Sweet Robin.


  5. daffy says:

    The way you have intertwined the stories is very clever and shows to me your way of working through things and to look for the symobolism that we all need sometimes to know we can move on.
    I believe that we should never apologise for telling our life stories or happenings. Things happen to everyone and only the person who it is happening to knows the magnitude of its effects. (Affects? I always get those two muddled… I need a song to help me remember) Yes, worse things happen and yes, we have much to be grateful for but we also have the ability to document it. Our experiences can help others or give hope.


    • sherrimatt says:

      I really appreciate your comments daffy and the fact that you ‘got’ what I was trying to convey. I started this blog as a way to document my journey as a new writer, to get back on track as it were (hence my category name, “on the Write Track”!). If writing from my heart and, as I commented above, ‘just keeping it real’ gives others hope and encouragement then hopefully I am indeed on track!
      Oh, and I think it’s ‘affects’ isn’t it here in this context? But now I’m as muddled as you the more I think about it and I’m going to have to look it up!


  6. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this post Sherri – what a beautiful one and I quite believe you in saying the robin was a gift from above. When we were in the woods and we had our own resident robin in the spruce, we’d often see him in one of the trees at the entrance to our path – I would swear he was waiting for us and calling us home (because he wanted a feed of course!) And robins, I understand are also fierce little birds, so not only are they joyful, but they’re survivors too!


    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post Andrea. I thought it would better explain why my little robin means so much to me, especially after the carnage of their first nest. I was gutted when I didn’t see any robins for a couple of years and to see ‘him’ back was to me no small miracle! How lovely that you had your very own ‘resident’ robin too, they really to get attached I believe. You are right, they are quite fierce and also very territorial. They are survivors, yes! Like you and I Andrea 🙂


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