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The mourning dove who nested by my front door left after her fledgling learned to fly. Two weeks later she was back, nesting on the ledge by my neighbor’s front door.

Our houses are connected and the doorways are close. We have watched in awe at the life blossoming outside our doors. This time there were two babies, and the ledge is small. Last night one fell out of the nest, but the father bird came and is watching over it while the mother bird stays in the nest with its sibling.

My neighbor and I have brought other things to life together; we planted flowers, we chose a tree which the landscapers put in for us, we carefully watered and weeded, and we regularly chat about our shared space.

The birds came on their own. We had nothing to do with it. But we jointly worry about them. She texted me, “We may have to come up with ideas to make this nesting area safer.”

This willingness to care for those living on the edge of safety is what makes us more than merely human. It exposes our humanity, our ability to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others.

I was with a group of people recently who were talking about the role of religion in the world. I was the only one who claimed that religion has had a positive effect on humanity. The others argued, rightly so, that religion has been the underlying cause of too much evil, too much war, too much hatred and death.

And yet, my faith in humanity is like my faith in these doves. The mother bird came down to check on the baby. The father stepped away, ostensibly keeping a protective eye on the pair. They will do what they can to protect their babies, but in the end they cannot control the future.

I often wonder if God exists, and how God works in the world, if at all. This may sound strange coming from a rabbi, a spiritual leader whose job is to help people see God’s hand in their lives. But I’m human, and I wonder.

The doves are teaching me that God’s presence is always here. What my religion does for me is open my eyes to these moments. There are the doves, there are my neighbor and me, and there is God. At this moment we are all interconnected, joined in a dance of life and survival and caring.

My neighbor and I can’t control the outcome any more than the birds can. Our caring is an inherent aspect of our instinct to preserve and protect life. We’re both mothers, and that may be part of it. But it goes beyond parenthood, beyond our beliefs in the value of religion or our acceptance of the inherently negative aspects of humankind.

In the end, the simple answer is that for the two of us, a small life matters. We will watch and wait, and help if we can. We will grieve if the baby bird dies and we will rejoice if it flies away. The outcome is beyond our reach. So too the understanding of life and death. All we have is faith.