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    The Songbird

    A golden-feathered songbird is swinging on its perch warbling sweet songs to the air. It's a concerto in the key of G scored for solo voice with interludes of improvisations to the pleasure of anyone who chooses to hear. The songbird is well-fed. Its water bottle is always full with cool refreshment from the spring outside the window, beyond the flower bed on the edge of the meadow. The songbird pauses. The perch stops swinging for a moment. The bird longs for something more. It longs for something beyond and outside of itself. It longs for the outside air. It longs for the “other”.

    You see, I am that songbird. There was a time when I received that longing and heard the voice of the Other whisper, “Come. Follow me.”

    “But I can't. I am in a cage,” I protested.

    “Are you?” asked the Other.

    “I see bars of iron. I cannot move them. They keep me in.”

    “Yes, you cannot move them,” affirmed the Other. “I placed them there to keep the cat out, not to keep you in.”

    “But I also see other barriers. Woven sticks. Cords of string. Walls of clay,” I argued.

    “Those are of your own making. Remember?'

    And I did remember, after a time. I did weave those barriers. I did mold those walls. I tried as best I could to deflect the pointed fingers, the rumors, the back-alley secrets. It was all I had for armor at the time. I placed them there as protection from the slings and arrows of those who aim to hurt me on purpose. Some of them were crafted in grief. Others were built in shame. Still others were woven in guilt. I cried aloud, “Do you blame me?”

    There was no response, at first. The echoes of my cry pained my heart, pierced my soul, until fading finally to that silence which borders loneliness – that profound loneliness whose silence is broken only by hearing your own voice speak into the darkness, “Is anyone here? Does anyone care?”

    As the silence, the darkness, overwhelmed me, I heard His voice, but not with my ears. I heard Him speak directly into my soul, “I do not blame you. You are my beloved. I created you out of joy.”

    A warming sense of peace came upon me. I realized somewhere deep inside that I no longer had any need for my makeshift shields. I inquired, “Can you remove them?”

    “Done! They are all gone! You are free to fly, for I am with you always.”

    “But what if I don't want to fly? What if I just want to stay here with You.”

    He explained, “You are free to stay here. You are free to fly. And if you fly, you are free to leave and never return. You are also free to fly, singing my praises as you have from the beginning, spreading my songs to the world. And as you witness an injustice or fly into the darkness, as you encounter the brokenness or dissonance that pains your heart, know that it pains me as well. For my heart dwells within you.

    "And in that knowledge, return to my outstretched finger each day and feel my healing touch. For each time you return, I shall teach you a new song, I shall create in you a new heart and bless you to be a blessing to all who hear my songs through your voice. I shall always bless you so that you may bless. I shall always love you so that you may love. Rest in that, my beloved and choose whichever path you wish whenever you are ready.”

    His heart began to bloom like a rose opening inside me. His love welled up within me. It filled my soul to overflowing with joy. I could no longer hold it all in. As comfortable as I was in His presence swinging lazily on my perch hoarding what I was being given, I could no longer keep it all to myself. I felt compelled to fly to spread His song.

    So I hopped off my perch, stood on the edge of the window, spread my wings and flew. I flew above the flowers, across the meadow, to the spring, and beyond. And as I warbled my sweet concerto in G, I sang His improvisations instead of my own, trusting in faith that each note would arrive and sing through me in time with the beat of His heart.

    And in a quiet glide between songs, a pure white dove flew up alongside me and smiled, “You are My beloved. With you I am well pleased.”