Just Breathe

Gulf Coast Sunset ©2008 Lucy Mathews Heegaard

Once upon a time, a pair of swallows decided to build a nest in our garage. We never thought the eggs they laid would hatch; the odds were stacked against them. They had chosen to build their nest atop the metal box mounted on the ceiling that housed our automatic garage door opener. Every time we opened or closed our garage door, it must have felt like an earth tremor in that little nest. Yet, they hung in there.

The Mama and Papa would diligently take turns sitting on their eggs. We watched them come and go, trading places, never leaving the nest unattended. As they persisted, we became invested in their story. We were rooting for them.

When we realized the eggs had hatched, we stopped parking our car in the garage stall beneath which their nest sat. We pulled up lawn chairs on those summer days and sat with our gazes firmly fixed on the baby birds as they began to hop to the edge of the nest and then retreat back down into the cozy confines of the only home they had ever known. We held our breaths each time any one of them came close to taking the leap.

In the end, we never got to witness the fall from the nest, but we did see the little fellows once they were safely on the ground. The Mama (I always assumed it was the mother :) would call to them repeatedly, insistently, until they hopped their way outside to join her.

This is their story.

Just Breathe
Lucy Mathews Heegaard © 2009

I watched the swallow learn to fly
Caught between the earth and sky
But just as we all live and die
The swallow had to try

I listened to the mother call
Beckon her child to fall
No leap of faith is small
But the will to survive is in us all

Just breathe the sky
With open eyes
Just breathe
And fly

I heard the baby’s crying song
As the mother coaxed her along
We all need a call to urge us on
But it’s our own voice that makes us strong

I saw the baby tumble down
Leave the next without a sound
Sometimes the way to higher ground
Means risking comforts that we’ve found

Just breathe the sky
With open eyes
Just breathe
And fly

The empty nest sat alone
A familiar place outgrown
In the space between the foreign and the known
The silence tells a story of its own

Just breathe the sky
With open eyes
Just breathe
And fly

Credits: Music and lyrics by Lucy Mathews Heegaard. Vocals and ukulele by Lucy. Harmony vocals by Jeff Tuttle. Synth pad by Barbara McAfee. Recorded at Wild Sound Studio, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Engineered and mixed by Matthew Zimmerman. Mastered by Steve Kaul.

Photograph at top ©2008 Lucy Mathews Heegaard Gulf Coast Sunset.


25 Comments on “Just Breathe

  1. Thanks for sharing your creativity. I want to join you on the chairs in the driveway waiting for the great jump. Will the swallows return? Did you have to leave the door open so they could go in and out or did they find another way? You gave me joy today!

    • Karen, I could totally see you pulling up a chair next to me and being as mesmerized as I was! We did end up leaving the garage door open and pretty much rearranging all our activities in the garage to accommodate the birthing process. The swallows did return but never successfully hatched another brood after that year.

  2. So Sweet and so much of what we need to remember now — life is fragile, but life is strong

    • “Fragile but strong.” You captured the essence completely, Jan. Particularly poignant in light of the wildfires so close at hand for you. Sending hugs and love. #SonomaStrong

  3. Lucy, This is a beautiful mix of poetry, nature and music. And I love also “just breathe the sky with open eyes.” It has resonance with me as a “soon to be” retiree, who lives in an empty nest. “The empty nest sat alone, a familiar place outgrown. In the space between the foreign and the known.” It is a message I needed to hear as I ready myself for leaving the nest. Thank You! I will hope to link your lovely post to my blog matriarch-me.com.

  4. Oh Lucy….so very beautiful. I have no words…but I’m sure glad you do. Just breathe is a phrase I often use when the sadness of losing my children overcomes me….usually around the holiday season and their birthdays and anniversary heaven days. Thank you for warming my heart with these words❤️❤️❤️

    • Oh Rosemary, I am so deeply moved that the “just breathe” phrase is one that is yours, too. Sometimes that is really all we can do, isn’t it? Thinking of you as the holiday season approaches, knowing the sadness it can bring and the reminders it carries of your profound losses. Sending you so much love and holding you in my heart. Thank you for your beautiful note.

  5. Pretty, bluegrass rhythm and harmonies. And your voice, my my, so perfectly toned, strong and pretty too. Mama and Daddy bird came to you to tell their story. Your song has a little melancholy, a lot of hope; and that sweet reminder to just breathe invokes a challenge to reach the sky. Soar little baby bird, soar.
    And Lucy, you play the ukulele?!! 💜💜

    • Aww, thank you so much, Julie. I appreciate your note more than words can say. And yes, I play the uke! Who knew, right? :) Back in my MVS days, I was not ukulele playing nor singing. The itch struck me somewhat out of the blue well into adulthood. Hugs to you.

  6. Hi Lucy, this is so beautiful, tender, and etherial. It goes deep…. I shared it on Facebook and have received 4 comments so far from people who loved it too. I’m drawn to everything about it, your ukulele playing, the melody, words, background music, and your lovely voice, but I’m especially impressed by the sound quality. I’ve been recording a few of my songs in the home studio of a friend who is a professional musician and, well, this recording just sounds clearer, more immediate….. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing it.

    • Thank you for your note, Jean, and for your kind words. I also greatly appreciate your letting me know about people’s reactions from your sharing the song on Facebook. It touches me when it resonates with people. Getting good quality sound is such a feat. I have done some home studio recording, as well, and I owe the clarity and feeling of immediacy of this recording to the talented professionals at Wild Sound Studio here in Minneapolis.

    • Thank you, Lyndall! I was thinking of Eloise’s companion meditation that she created in response to the themes of this song as I was at your “Midwifing Death” workshop last weekend at Aslan. I want to give her words another listen now with a new ear.

  7. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, this arrangement is soooooo beautiful. You so know how to write , sing , and arrange a song just the way I like it. I loved hearing this song tonight. You truly are an inspiration.

  8. Your talents never cease to amaze me Lucy. This is beautiful. A nice lullaby for my 3 year old granddaughter. Thank you!
    Lots of love, Diane

  9. Dear Lucy, Happy birthday!
    I just read and listened to your truly beautiful words and song. I could listen to that sound all day. I am a bird lover/watcher/bumbling photographer and found pure joy in imagining watching/anticipating with you.
    Thank you for sharing … and I need to know when you have more, like when it comes out in cd!!! Hope to see you someday soon!

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