For the sake of full disclosure, the story I am about to write is not my work. It is someone else's. I would gladly give proper attribution to the author, whom I believe was an intuitive, sensitive and creative genius, but unfortunately I do not recall who originally penned this wonderful and insightful piece. I only know that I heard it read on a local radio program a few years ago and it had a wonderful impact on me. For that reason, and with all the most sincerest apologies to its rightful author, I am thus regaling this poignant story (in my own paraphrasing to the best of my memory), so bountiful with a message so very worthy of both reflection and remembrance.
It was a bitter cold and stormy Christmas Eve. As the wind fiercely howled across and the enveloping snow continued to fall on the yard and the surrounding fields, the old farmer and his wife, both tired and weary from a long day of arduous labor and dealing with the harsh elements, climbed into their warm and inviting bed for a longed for and well deserved night of blissful slumber.
The old farmer, just having put out the lantern and retiring his spectacles was no sooner drifting off into a deep and restful sleep when he was rudely awakened by a continual nearby clattering noise, amplified only by number.
Exhausted to the bone, he tried to ignore it at first, but as the unceasing clamor continued, the old farmer sprang out of bed, now bitterly and utterly, yet characteristically cantankerous, as he feverishly replaced his glasses onto his face, relit the lantern and looked out the window to investigate the cause of the nuisance.
Across from the old farm house was large, old tree that had been on the acreage of this old homestead for generations. It sat directly across and in close proximity to the front of the barn. At first, the old timer had to readjust his glasses and rub his weary eyes to better focus on the large, dark colored, vague image swarming all over one of the front windows.
It was a flock of sparrows, who saw a light the old farmer had left on in the barn to give at least a little more warmth on this unbearable eve to his livestock inside. Not understanding the concept of the glass window pane, or the impediment it was causing them, the desperate sparrows were unsuccessfully seeking shelter and possibly food in the barn on this bitter cold and blustery night, fit for neither man nor beast, let alone such tiny and vulnerable birds.
"Huh!", the old farmer muttered, as he marveled at the unusual sight, but still equally perturbed by its very inconsiderate interruption. He then repeated his nightly routine with the lantern and his glasses, and returned to bed. He was too tired to go outside and deal with this situation and not at all anxious to do so, given the current conditions. Maybe in time, the birds would just fly away and go bother someone else.
He again just started drifting off to sleep. But the clamor continued. The persistence of these little creatures now infuriated the old farmer. Arising from bed once again, he donned his coat, hat and boots, and stormed, albeit with much chagrin, outside. He relented to at least open the barn door, if not to give relief to these poor defenseless little creatures on this cold night, then perhaps at least to himself so that he could finally get some now overdue rest. Some of the birds began flying into the barn. Seeing this result, the old farmer returned to the warmth and security of his abode and yet again climbed into his much yearned for bed.
He again began drifting into a slumbering euphoria, but alas, no rest for the weary! The ghastly clattering not only continued, but was now even louder! The old man again sprang out of bed, refitted his glasses upon his weathered old face and again looked out the window. What he saw astounded him. The barn door was now fully open, the light still lit inside, and those pesky birds, now all of them, including those that only briefly investigated the barn's empty contents to their dissatisfaction, were again pecking in desperate unison on the barn window.
Furious and now desperate beyond description, the old farmer re-bundled up and ventured outside yet again, this time armed with a bagful of bread crumbs, despite previously, but only briefly, having contemplated wielding a shotgun to resolve the problem instead. He was, after all, a temperamental old codger, but certainly not a cruel one.
"All right, here, 'ya dang birds! Now eat and leave me alone in peace!" the old man bellowed as he had just finished leading a trail of breadcrumbs from the base of the old tree into the now lit, and open, but still warmer hay-filled barn. He stepped back a few steps and watched as a few of the birds cautiously landed on the fresh, fluffy, white snow and nervously pecked at the breadcrumbs, while seeming to keep one eye affixed on the old farmer, whom they had not yet determined was friend or foe. Now convinced the problem was finally resolved, the old farmer again returned back inside and upstairs to bed, where his wife remained contently nestled and snoring, long since deeply in her sleep and unaware of all the annoying disruptions and goings on of this eventful night.
The weary old farmer, still perturbed, but now satisfied that he would be left alone, gave a grunt from his achy old body and a subsequent peaceful sigh as he again climbed under the warm blankets in the quiet darkness of the upstairs bedroom of the creaky, drafty old farmhouse. And for a minute or two, he actually forced himself to remain awake, intently listening...and to his glee, SILENCE! Smiling contently, he gently closed his eyes and for what he thought would be the final attempt of this now late evening, once again began to drift off to sleep.
But that just wasn't meant to happen yet.
"DAGG-NABBIT!," the now enraged old farmer exclaimed as he jumped out of bed and again, frustrated as nearly horrified, and looked out the window and saw all of the birds again pecking at the barn window, now with even greater and louder fury than before, including the few birds that had actually eaten some of the breadcrumbs on the snow-covered ground. The noise was now such that the old farmer just couldn't take it any more! "SSSStupid dang birds!" the old farmer yelled, pausing only to look over at his wife, whom he thought he may have accidentally awakened in his tantrum, but there, nestled snugly in bed, and still blissfully snoring and contently and totally unaware, she still was.
Bundled up once again, the old farmer, now practically out of his mind in sheer exasperation, ran downstairs and outside, and frantically began flapping his arms, pointing, yelling, and giving directions to the hapless little birds. "Here, over here!", he repeatedly yelled to his little feathered adversaries of the night. Still, they ignored him and clattered away, now so ferociously at the window pane, that he feared they might actually break it. Now running back and forth along the breadcrumb line from the tree into the barn, the old farmer, hoping the birds to follow him as a visual aid, yelled, "Here, over here! Look, follow me! In here! See? Food, light, warmth, shelter!" Still the birds continued, undaunted or unaware on their aggravating mission, seeming to ignore the old farmer as if he didn't even exist. "What's a matter with 'ya, you dumb birds? Can't you see I'm tryin' to help 'ya? WHY WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME? Do you WANT to die?" And still uninhibited, the birds continued pecking at the window, suffering needlessly on and apparently ignorant of all they needed and truly wanted, lying just there, only a few feet below them.
Now seeing their plight and exasperated beyond the point of fighting any further, the farmer, just stood there, in the mounting snow and in the cold, bitter blustering wind, his tired old arms now down in retreat and at his sides, as he watched the birds pecking at the window, with some breadcrumbs still visible on the ground amidst the falling snow, and still lining the path from the old tree to the barn entrance. He was now frozen in his tracks, not by the weather, but by his astonishment at this incredible sight.
The sight softened the tough old farmer. As he continued to watch the sparrows in combined frustration and humbling awe, a tear came to his eye and he genuinely felt sorry, and even scared for them now. Not knowing what else to do, he suddenly realized the true crux of the problem as he thought to himself, "They won't listen to me because I'm not one of them. If only I could change myself into a sparrow, I could fly from the window to inside the barn and get then to follow me to safety, where they could find shelter, warmth, nourishment, and for that matter....life!"
Now realizing that he had been at this endeavor for what seemed like an eternity, the old man pulled his watch out of his pocket to note the time. It was now exactly 12:00, Midnight. "Huh!" The old man said aloud in added surprise, "It's Christmas now." Then something else suddenly occurred to him.
It was on this day, many years ago in a manger in Bethlehem, where a baby boy named Jesus was born because God realized that people are not really all that different than birds. And like birds, people will typically and instinctively only follow someone who is just like them.
And from that realization and love, thus, our Savior was born, that we may follow Him, and that we, despite our otherwise natural stubbornness, may have life by following Him, who was made in our likeness.
To whomever the original author of this piece was, thank you for this beautiful and much inspiring creation. I hope I did it justice.
And to all, who read (and hopefully share) this story, Merry Christmas.