The missus really likes birds. Actually, she likes just about every kind of critter except roaches. Her favorite birds are cardinals. Pop’s favorite is the turkey but he likes the other ones, too (except for blue jays and crows). They’ve put up bird feeders around the house and they especially like to watch the little black hats and those itty bitty hummingbirds on the porch. I kinda like watchin’ ’em myself.
Anyway, Pop was mullin’ over Christmas stories to tell his Boy Scouts during his “Scoutmaster’s Minute” the other day when he remembered one that this fella, Paul Harvey, told on the radio a while back. He said it was really good for folks to hear during Christmastime ’cause it brings out the real meaning of what these holidays are all about.
So, here’s the story as Pop related it to me . . .
“The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.
I’m truly sorry to distress you, he told his wife, but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas eve. He said he’d feel like a hypocrite and that he’d much rather just stay at home but that he’d wait up for her and his family. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read. Minutes later he was startled by a thumping, thudding sound – then another and then another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against the living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he thought about the barn where he kept his horses. That would provide a warm shelter if he could just direct the birds inside. He quickly put on his coat, hat & scarf and tramped through the deepening snow towards the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light but the birds did not come in. He figured that food would entice them so he hurried back to the house, fetched some bread crumbs and sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, wide open doorway of the stable. But, to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He even tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction . . . except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me – that I am not trying to hurt them but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten or confuse them, they just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
If only I could be a bird, he thought to himself, and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safety and warmth. But I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing Adeste Fidelis, the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.”
I think I’ll mosey over to my spot underneath our Christmas tree and give some thought to what all that means. Somethin’ tells me that one day it’ll be really clear to everybody. Even pups like me.