“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” (Sir James M. Barrie 1860–1937) This is a story about a singing bird. This bird didn’t sing in the open, away from buildings and people. It didn’t fly from tree to tree. In fact this bird had very little freedom. It’s home was a cage, and not a very large cage at that.
The cage hung on a nail outside a small cottage, and many people passed it every day. The cage was put out every morning and taken in at night.
It wasn’t a very attractive cage – just a cheap basketware one – but the remarkable thing was that all the people who passed it morning and evening looked up to see if it was there, and when they saw it a smile came on their faces.
The reason for all this interest was that inside the cage was a singing bird, and it sang continuously as if that was its sole purpose in life.
As the businessman passed it each morning on the way to the office he would look up and smile, and he carried that smile with him and passed it on to all that he met during the day.
The factory workers on their way to work would whistle or sing as they passed and continued with their tune on the factory floor. Children on their way to school stopped briefly to hear the bird’s song and it encouraged and delighted them.
Strangely, not one person said anything about the cheap cage. And that’s the point. The most important thing was not the cottage, or the basketware cage, or even the bird, but the beautiful and infectious song.
The joyful notes, the sheer pleasure that it gave others, reached out far beyond its cheap cage to the offices, the shops, the factories and the schools.
So what can we learn from this little story of a singing bird in a cheap cage, hanging on a nail outside a small unassuming cottage on the outskirts of town?
It doesn’t matter where we live – in the town, suburbs or the country, in humble cottages or fine houses. Like the bird whose surroundings were unimpressive, what is important is what we are and what we do. If we had any idea how much inward peace we would gain for ourselves, and how much joy we would bring to others, by devoting ourselves single-heartedly to God, we would certainly pay more attention to our spiritual progress.
Jesus grew up in a modest home in the small town of Nazareth, a simple carpenter. Yet he was the light of the world. What mattered to Jesus is what should matter to us – our spirit, the song of our life, our conduct and our love.
May we live for the highest, the noblest and the best. You have so much to give.
As Patriarch of my four-generation family I will be moving in the next two weeks from Tewantin slightly further north to the city of Gympie, an old gold mining town on Queensland’s Fraser Coast, to spend my days with them. I pray that I will still have much to give.
Have a good week. Pastor Ron