Birds in the Snow

I love a good story.  I recently ran across this story with an imagery that I couldn’t get out of my head.  It’s probably not true and the actual author is unknown; but, it was read one Christmas by Paul Harvey and has been re-told in a book about evangelism by Will McRaney Jr.  It’s allegorical, my favorite type of storytelling – modern day parables.  Hope you enjoy this story while I’m on a mini-break from blogging.

This is about a modern man, one of us. He was not a Scrooge. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family, upright in his dealings; but unfortunately he did not believe in all of that Jesus incarnation stuff that churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story and God coming to Earth as a man. “I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I am not going with you to church with you this Christmas Eve.” He said he would feel like a hypocrite, so he stayed, and they went.

Shortly after the family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier as time went on. After going back to his fireside chair to read the newspaper he heard a thudding sound, then another, then another still. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the snow and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large living room window. He had compassion for them and he couldn’t just let the birds lie there and freeze to death.

He remembered the barn where his children always stabled their pony that could provide a warm shelter if he could just direct the birds into it. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the snow to where the birds were. He opened the doors to his barn wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. Heading back to the house, he decided to fetch some breadcrumbs figuring that the yellow trail would entice them in. Unfortunately, that still didn’t work either. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by waving his arms. He tried everything he could think of, but instead of going into the barn they just scattered in every direction.

Then, he realized something: They were scared 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 they can trust me, that I’m not trying to hurt them, I’m trying to help them.” How? Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. If I could mingle with them, he thought, and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way to the safe, warm barn.  But I’d have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.  If only I could be a bird myself.

Just then, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells playing “Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful),” pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.  At last, he understood God’s heart towards mankind, and he fell on his knees in the snow.  He had come to know the One who became one of us just to save us.

Beautiful…don’t you think?  (especially the 4th paragraph and how God took a chance to be “that bird” as flesh and blood; I think that’s what sent the man to his knees)

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6 thoughts on “Birds in the Snow

  1. During the 50’s & 60’s my parents listened to the Bud Guest show on the radio – WJR from Detroit. Bud told this story of the birds – every Christmas Eve. I think my Dad cried every time.

  2. FYI. The “parable” was written by Louis Cassels. He was the religion editor for United Press International. His “Parable of the Birds” has been reprinted and rebroadcast on radio many times in the years since it first appeared in the Christmas editions of newspapers across the country in 1959.

  3. FYI: The writer, Louis Cassels was religion editor for United Press International. His “Parable of the Birds” has been reprinted and rebroadcast on radio many times in the years since it first appeared in the Christmas editions of newspapers across the country in 1959.

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