Songbirds-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Sunday, October 28, 2012
LAST week I spent with my wife a few days in our farm in Lala, Lanao del Norte. My brother-in-law is a great animal lover. He has there plenty of animals: dogs, pigs, ducks, doves and also a monkey. He has there also an aviary or birdhouse with many different kinds of songbirds. I have been watching these birds for hours. They have beautiful color shades on their feathers. They fly around inside the aviary and are chirping the whole day until late in the evening. Then they retire but early morning they wake you up again with their singing. For me, it was a beautiful occasion for contemplating on God’s majesty and splendor while those birds sang of God’s glory.
Then I came across an article of Mary Colwell, a British writer and media producer on the environment. Colwell has done a research on songbirds.
Here in the Philippines, we keep these songbirds in an aviary or birdhouse. But I remember now, way back when I was still young in Holland, we used to have these songbirds in our garden at home, but they were freely flying around in the open air. Some would come very near and then you could see the beautiful colored shades on their feathers. They would even sing for you.
Mary Colwell says in her article that these songbirds during winter time are migrating to sunnier and warmer climates. I remember also seeing these birds flying together in a V-shape column heading for the south.
Colwell says in her article also that Christian tradition has woven many folklore tales around these birds.
There is, for instance, the blackbird that will sing throughout winter and often at night. Its black color has never faded away and it reminds us of the presence of evil or the Devil in our life. The bird is imprinted in our hearts as a true friend that warns us when danger approaches and it chooses to live with human neighbors.
Another bird is the robin. In Holland we used to call her the little red breast. Some say it is red because it gets burnt by the flames of hell, as it tries to take water to the burning souls below. Others say that its breast was pierced by the spikes of Jesus’ crown of thorns when it tried to tear it away or that blood spattered its breast as it sang into Jesus’ ear while he hung on the Cross, trying to relieve his pain.
Then there is the wren, a tiny bird with a brown-gray plumage that is said to be a cave dweller because it often disappears beneath bushes and shrubs or into holes. People thought it was going down to hell to have supper with the Devil and this translated into heinous crimes. This poor bird is blamed also for betraying St. Stephen, the deacon who was stoned to death by an angry crowd of Jews.
When Stephen tried to hide from his enemies, this little bird was singing loudly near the place where Stephen was hiding. Thus the angry crowd got at Stephen and stoned him to death.
I remember also that we had in Holland the goldfinch. This bird is an age-old symbol of the Crucifixion, according to Colwell. The Italian painter Raphael, who lived in the 16th century and is famous for his beautiful paintings of the Madonna, has one painting that is called Madonna of the Goldfinch. Gold represents majesty; the red band around the head is the blood of Christ. Its song, however, is like the tinkling sound of the Christmas bells that lifts our spirits to the angelic spheres during Christmas time.
Indeed, all these birds sing a true symphony of Christian mystery which helps us to ponder on God in the beauty of nature who brings consolation in moments that we are depressed and feel desolated.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 28, 2012.