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Category: Big Ocean Women Philosophy Women in Action

Education: The Flight that Feathers the Nest

August 23, 2017

As I pondered the power of education to enrich our lives and homes, I remembered a book, “The Flight and the Nest,” by Carol Lynn Pearson. She begins with “On Nest Building,” comparing the ease and utility of a nest built from local materials–mud and sticks and feathers–with one built from gathering ingredients from “sunsets, rainbows, and unboundaried skies.” She concludes,

I shall come back
Bearing such beauties
Gleaned from God’s and man’s very best.
I shall come filled.
And then —
Oh, the nest that I can build!

Marjorie Lyon Hafen graduation University of Utah

My mother, Marjorie Lyon Hafen, was such a nest builder. I remembered Carol Lynn Pearson’s writing because I remember her! Mom enrolled us in Carol Lynn’s children’s drama class at Snow College when we were in grade school. Not only did she share Carol Lynn’s beautiful poetry with us, she invited her to dinner. I even wrote a poem and asked Carol Lynn to “tell me what was good and bad about it.” She kindly told me to just keep writing. I did.

That was only one of the magical ingredients mom brought to our nest from her wide and colorful world. It was not all based on formal education. We grew up on Broadway musicals, classical music, plays at the college, and singing in the church choir under her direction. This completely killed my taste for coarse or vulgar music. She gave me the opportunity to study piano with a gifted musician who had performed in New York. I feathered my own nest with this richness and now delight to see my children and grandchildren embracing good music.

Mom belonged to a music club, literary club, and music teachers group. She wrote and published poetry and plays and could do complex math in her head. She also knew how to score tennis and sing us to sleep with all kinds of wonderful songs. She had been a Girl Scout and shared her passion for nature and beauty. She never took you on a ride without pointing out the beauties of God’s creations.

Norma Snow College Graduation

I am ashamed to say that I often wished in my insecure heart that my mom would just be like the other mothers and not draw attention to herself (and to me). That said, I did reap some of the blessings of her fanciful flights while still in school. Mom could be counted on for brainstorming, editing, and staying up all night sewing a costume for school projects or plays. She taught school before she had children and spoke nearly perfect grammar. When I was taking an English test, I just had to imagine how my mom would finish the sentence, and invariably I would ace the test.

Marjorie with Norma on her wedding day

Let me be clear that Mom was not all flight and no nest. She was a single mother running a business by the time I was in junior high, but she was home when we arrived from school, often greeting us with fresh cookies or bread. She canned and sewed and cooked most of our meals from scratch and ensured that we learned these skills. We sat around the table, laughing and playing board games and Canasta. We knew we mattered to her. She did as much as she possibly could while we were in school and often stayed up late working on books or payroll after we were in bed.

Grandchildren are a bonus nest!

So much of who I am and what I do can be traced to the amazing nest in which I was nurtured. Mom’s love and the wonders she gathered were woven into our lives. Oh, the nest she built!

Norma, University of Utah graduation – following in her mother’s footsteps

What kind of education can you pursue, formal or otherwise, to open new worlds to your family? What did you learn from your own nest that you are sharing with present and future generations?  Your education and knowledge provide power for you and those you nurture. So, take flight and bring delight back to those you love.


 Written by Norma Hendrickson