“Oh, how exquisite!” she exclaimed, while gazing out her window. The old woman’s yearning was rewarded with a delightful surprise, a very small red bird perched on her porch railing, looking this way and that. “I wonder what he is thinking?” she thought to herself. “He is so tiny, so different from the other birds around here. Where has he come from?” It was just an ordinary winter day, a bit gray and overcast, quite the backdrop for the bright red color of the bird. He stood out nearly as brilliantly as if it had been a white snowy day, crystal cold as it was. Like the glossy red berries of a holly tree, he was a little spot of joy.
Not wanting to startle him away, the lady slowly sat, her eyes ever watching as he preened, and fluffed his feathers, shook himself a few times, then settled down as if nesting on the wide railing. And there he sat. While she watched he slowly looked around, then rose up, faced her directly, and, with a tiny bow of sorts, began to sing.
Astonished, the woman sat transfixed at the song that poured forth from the heart of the tiny bird. Piercing her very soul, the sweetness sang to a part of her that needed that very song. She could not move as tears ran down her face, watering her hands clasped in her lap. A torrent of tears were unleashed, washing her clean, perhaps of regret, remorse, grief… she was unsure why she was crying, she just knew the song brought relief. And still the tiny bird sang on and on, his concert just for her, that very day, her porch railing his stage.
Suddenly the music began to fade, the small red bird nearly spent. Back to preening, fluffing feathers, resting on the rail. “Thank you, tiny one,” she whispered. “The message you brought has encouraged me this gray day.” After long moments of pause and quiet reflection the woman sensed something rising up within her. Something she could barely contain. As a warmth cascaded over her, she began to sing. At first a bit warbley, then with more strength as her voice took flight. At the sound of her trills the red bird rose up on his wee spindly legs and, puffing out his tiny breast, joined her in song. They sang together in complete abandon until they were both filled to overflowing.
When night time came, moon glow softly gleaming through the clouds, the red bird, content with fulfilling his day’s mission, and in no hurry to depart, hunkered himself down to rest. Iridescent, his feathers reflected the soft light of the moon, creating the effect of him sitting in a warm pool, enveloped in his own down comforter. In the still night he had no need of twiggy shelter… he was cozy there, still on the railing in his own soft radiance. Even in rest it seemed his very being… hummed.
For days the red bird stayed, singing, preening, fluffing, singing again. Refreshed with offerings of water and birdseed, he brought joy and laughter back to the heart of the lonely old woman. And since those days, if one listens carefully, the sound of their singing just might be heard, winging on the wind… the song of an ageless old woman and a curious little bird.
Addendum: A day or so after writing this piece a beloved verse ran through my mind. I wonder if it has visited you, too. No matter our age or stage, may hope flutter within us always:
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all…”