Pacific Magazine - Volume 14, Number 3

Lessons right outside the window

I admit to ambivalence about pigeons.

I'm not talking doves. I'm not talking birds bred for beauty or trained for tasks. I'm talking about garden variety, gray pigeons. Not coy, but carp.

On the one hand, they are dirty of feather and dim of mind and deserving of the epithet "rats with wings." On the other, I remember as a boy awaking to the cooing of a couple nesting in our eaves, and the sound still brings me peace.

But whether I like it or not, there they are—mama and papa pigeon, moving into the topmost seat in a stack of once-white resin chairs on the balcony outside my workplace window. They started cuddling in the spring, within a few days they gathered sticks into a nest and as I write this the second of their two eggs has just hatched.

All in all, the whole scene strikes me as dingy. But the settlers have attracted the attention of several of my co-workers, and their cult is growing. They see the miracle of life and a young couple struggling against the odds—cats shouldn't be a problem at this height, but who knows what will happen if we ever need those chairs—to raise a family.

I see two flying manure spreaders raising two more.

But maybe my colleagues see something I don't. Jesus loved birds that neither sowed nor reaped, as well as flowers that neither toiled nor spun, and never specified a species. According to artists, there was a glow in the stable around another poor family that may or may not have been visible from the street, at least not to the hurrying masses crowding Bethlehem to be counted. As I hurry to finish today's important task, putting together a magazine, with my mind already turned toward all that needs to be done tomorrow, I stop long enough to wonder if I am missing the glory of the little picture.

This issue is about turning points. In these pages are the stories of personal, spiritual and professional transformations, as well as the mass transformation of commencement. But becoming a couple is a turning point, too. So is having and raising children. In that cooing is there a still small voice I should heed?

Maybe. My inborn skepticism isn't so easily overcome. But this summer I promise to pay attention.

Pacific PDF


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations