I Know Why the Spring Bird Sings

sunrise, April 19

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27 (NIV)

 

As I wrote in routine, I try to walk most mornings immediately after I wake up.  Even though it’s dark and cold, I enjoy walking in the winter.  The air is crisp.  If there is snow, it’s quiet.  And the shadows cast on the snow by a full moon can be breath-taking.  It’s true, I long for the days when I don’t need to put on several layers just to stay warm. (Oh, Summer, when I can walk out the door without checking the wind chill wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I miss you.  Come back soon.)  But winter walking is beautiful and refreshing and holy in its own way.

As daylight lengthens towards the promise of spring (even though daylight savings steals the sun back for awhile), my early morning walk is no longer quiet.  At some point in March, birds begin to return.  I don’t know where they shelter since there is not much with which to build a nest.  But I hear their songs.

When they first return, I know something has changed but can’t make out what it is.  I associate singing birds with open windows and summer mornings.  Their songs are out of place when it is still so cold; when it is still winter.  But they must not think so.  Something has told them it is time to return.

And that it is time to sing.

Usually it’s April showers that bring May flowers, but this year in Wisconsin it will be April snow storms.  This year, we have received 8½ inches of snow this month (through April 19).  We dodged an additional foot of snow because of the inch of freezing rain we received before the temperatures dropped.  My parents live further north – they have had over 25 inches of snow this month.

Last Thursday, the wind chill was 19 degrees and the several inches of heavy snow we received the night before still clung to the trees. As it does, the snow absorbs the normal sounds of the morning.  But this day, it was not a stifled quiet, the way you might dampen brass instruments so as not to overpower a small room.  Instead, the snow was the hushed silence of a respectful audience waiting for something beautiful.  And the birds did not disappoint.

Something within them tells them it is time to sing.  It is time despite what the cold and snow might try to convince them of.  The Spring Bird sings because it holds spring within itself regardless of the weather.  It is not convinced that the time is wrong.  It will not believe it is not spring.

The Spring Bird is a reminder of the hope to which we cling.  We continue to proclaim the Resurrection even in the face of death and evil and suffering.  Even when the world tries to convince us that Life is dead, that the time is wrong – that winter will not end – something within in us reminds us to sing.

The Spring Bird is a reminder of the hope to which we cling.  We continue to proclaim the Resurrection even in the face of death and evil and suffering.  Even when the world tries to convince us that Life is dead, that the time is wrong – that winter will not end – something within in us reminds us to sing.

The song of the Spring Bird is a song of resistance. As hope always is. Click To Tweet

When walking earlier that week, I noticed that several homes in my neighborhood hadn’t shoveled their driveway after Sunday’s blizzard.  Not even at the end where the plow had piled it up from the plow.  Instead, they just drove through it.  This isn’t normal practice.  If you don’t clear your driveway right away, you risk getting perma-ice that is difficult to get rid of.  Especially since we were scheduled to get another four inches on Wednesday.

This, too, was an act of resistance.  The forecast for Friday was 60 degrees.  The snow and ice would not be able to overcome these temperatures.  Spring will win.

As hope always does.

 

 

Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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