Leaving the Nest

Leaving the Nest May 20, 2016
Fledgling hummingbird
A fledgling hummingbird in the 2012 nest, working up the nerve to leave the nest.

I have a confession to make.

As the atheist movement grew explosively, flourishing in a World Wide Web of disbelief, I slept through it. I awoke from my coma into this unexplored universe of unbelievers.

I had been an atheist since I was 14, and my first published work appeared in American Atheist Magazine. I even published a satire of God. Yet I didn’t truly dip my toe into the secular stream until I started pouring my own writing into the surging waters.

Please don’t judge me; I didn’t know any better.

I thought nonfiction would be boring to write. Yet in all those years I was toiling away at a hot computer, writing satires of New Age beliefs and religion, I never got a chance to interact with my readers.

I’ve truly loved the exchange of ideas during my time at the Secular Spectrum. Wow, there are real people out there reading my writing. They don’t always agree with me, but they’re usually respectful and knowledgeable, with interesting ideas to express.

As I continued stretching my secular blogging muscles, they strengthened and grew. I was gaining valuable experience while finding out how fun nonfiction writing could actually be. Meanwhile, talented writers kept being added to the diverse SecSpec smorgasbord. If you don’t like this, look over there. Try some, you’ll like it.

Now, my blogging wings have fully fledged. I’m taking my first flight away from the nest, as I embark on my new Patheos Atheist blog, Miracle Girl.

This is the nest in 2012, after one remodeling.
Family togetherness in the 2012 nest. You can just discern where the second nest was grafted to the first.

For the past four years, a hummingbird nest has hung from the Christmas lights on our front porch, like an avian crèche. We’ve had successive pairs of nestlings in it, one or two a year. Each time, the mother hummingbird adds a bit more to the nest.

When the babies fledge, they first perch on the edge of the ever-lengthening nest. Soon, they’re perching a little further away. Before long, they finally take the plunge and fly the coop.

Flledgling on the edge of freedom
Sticking close to the 2012 nest. Its nestmate had already left.

But they don’t go far. For the time being they’ll stick nearby. Their mother will continue to feed and guard them for a few days before sending them off into the world.

We feel like godparents to them. Or should I say godless parents?

Like the fledged hummingbirds, I’m not going far. And here’s where the metaphor breaks down. I’m not really leaving SecSpec. I’ll just be watching it from the outside, as the nest continues to be remodeled and new nestlings are born.

I’m flying off to build my own nest now. If you’ve enjoyed my writing here at the Secular Spectrum, I hope to see you at Miracle Girl.

The old nest certainly has been fun.

IMG_5658
This is one of the recent fledglings, in March, 2016. It’s perching in a nearby branch, after it finally took the plunge.

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