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A Cardinal's Tale

I was sitting quietly, one afternoon. As I enjoyed the warmth of the sun, a brilliantly red cardinal flew onto the branch above my shoulder. He started chirping and, much to my surprise, he was as understandable as if I understood perfect Cardinalese. This is his story.

“The most extraordinary things have been happening to me. After the past few months nothing makes sense – except one thing. I KNOW that All-That-Is once personally protected and took care of me. Let me tell you about it. Almost three months ago, there was a really beautiful day. Father Sun was shining brightly and his warmth filled my being; my brothers, the clouds, were drifting slowly across the sky; brother south-wind was warm and gentle and it felt wonderful to be alive and aware of the wonders of this world. I had been searching for food without much success (it was the end of winter, you know), but the day was so perfect that, with or without food, I had to stop and enjoy the world around me. I began to sing a song of thanks and gratitude and joy. I tried very hard to express what I was feeling and sang out all my love and happiness. When my song ended, I felt uplifted, as if in perfect harmony with everything. As I looked around I saw a pile of sunflower seeds (my favorite food). Wondering how I could have missed all that food before my song, I flew to the shelf and ate until I was full. Thankfully there was food left for any others who might be hungry.

The next afternoon, I flew to the same place. This time I checked the shelf, but it was empty. Remembering the previous day, I began to sing my gratitude for its specialness. Guess what happened? After I finished my song the shelf was, again, filled with seeds. This continued every afternoon, I would come and sing and the food would mysteriously appear.

For the first time, I didn’t have to spend all my time searching for food. I could think and even dream instead. Do you have any idea what a luxury that is? I could try flying higher and diving and learn all types of new moves that a Cardinal never thinks of making. I had time to talk to the trees and flowers and time to listen to the animals and other birds.

It was the most interesting and exciting time of my life. I felt as if God had heard my innermost longings and had given me a chance to achieve them. This feeling made me try even harder.

About a month after the food started appearing some friends and I were chatting and I mentioned my ‘miracle’ - this thing that happened every day. They didn’t believe me, in fact, they couldn’t stop laughing and they called me a fool. They told me I was crazy, food didn’t mysteriously appear on empty shelves and God certainly did not pay attention to silly birds who wanted to sing. They kept mocking me until, in desperation, I invited them to come with me, the next day, and see for themselves. We met as planned. They wanted to go immediately rather than ‘wasting more of the day on this craziness’. I tried to tell them that it might be too early, that I always went later in the afternoon, that maybe the time made a difference. But they began mocking me again -“after all if it is a miracle, why should God care what time it is?” I couldn’t give them a good answer, so we went early. I showed them my empty shelf and then flew to my usual branch. I was really too nervous to sing well, but I tried my best. NOTHING happened – not one seed appeared. You should have heard the laughter of the other birds. Never have I felt more discouraged. The next few weeks were terrible - my world continued to fall apart. I got more and more depressed and my normal activities seemed to require too much effort to perform them. Sometimes, I would return to my singing place but there were never any seeds. To make things worse, there wasn’t much food, so I had to go back to my old way of life, where most of the day was spent searching for food. There was no time for my new flying or time to listen to Mother Earth or even time to think about what had happened.

I even stopped singing; the world was too discouraging to want to sing. One afternoon, I stopped and looked around. The world was so bright and clean and pretty.

My thoughts returned to those magical weeks before spring appeared and suddenly I felt very grateful that I had been permitted to have those experiences. Perhaps the magic was not happening now, but it had been a gift and I was grateful. I began to sing out my thanks for what had been and my delight in all the beauty that surrounded and was given to me, and I sang my new songs extra loud as gratitude for my renewed ability to see. I sang and sang and sang and suddenly a noise made me notice that the shelf was filled with seeds. The seeds have been here every day since, but now I don’t try to tell anyone. I come every day at this sun height and I sing my song of gratitude and thanks. The seeds always come after my song is finished. I’m not even sure why I am speaking to you, but, sometimes, I feel the need to speak about it, if only to a thing which can’t possibly understand me.

With that the Cardinal flew off to his branch and I rushed inside to fill my bird feeder and gave my thanks that I could be an instrument of universal love.

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