It is important to protect our little ones from too much pain, so when teaching them about the death of Jesus, I always begin with his resurrection - the women coming to the grave, crying and so very sad, and how the sun and flowers and birds are all telling them not to be sad but to be happy. I tell them how, when I
was feeling very sad, my blackbird would come and sing to me, telling me ‘Don’t be sad! Be happy!’
I don’t remember being specially aware of the birds as a child, although we had seen flashes of a kingfisher, and the solitary heron fishing, as well as red squirrels and rabbits with their babies in our beautiful Wanstead Park. Perhaps it was after I received the Lord Jesus into my life that the birds became so special to me. Like the hymn says:-
‘Heaven above is softer blue, earth below is sweeter green
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen’
I remember our pastor’s wife saying that when Pauline prayed she always thanked God for the birds. And somehow the blackbird for me is the sweetest song of all.
It had been a rainy day. No play time so the children were restless, and by the end of the day I stood at the bus stop, exhausted. The rain was still pouring down but we could see the blackbird high up on the church roof and singing his heart out. This is another precious memory that inspires me to sing, whatever the circumstances.
When, having left all the security I knew to travel non-stop around the world, I woke up in Australia to hear a blackbird. He too seems to be singing his heart out.
I rarely heard birds singing once I was settled in Papua New Guinea, for all they have the exotic birds of paradise, and even when settled back in UK we were living in a new build and I was afraid I might be going deaf, for I never heard the birds. But retired to our ‘forever’ home, as I thought, there were mature gardens and birds all around us. We loved the cheeky robin who kept company with Joel when he was gardening, and once I saw a little wren.
But it was after my beloved husband had died so suddenly that our blackbird became such a friend to me.
As soon as I opened the front door he would fly over and regale me with his message. ‘Don’t be sad, be happy!’ as I told the children.
We had loved our retirement home. ‘Our next move will be up,’ I had declared, but with Joel having preceded me to heaven, I had to make one more move and now I live in what I have called ‘My Eagle’s Nest.’ On the top floor of this complex, I rarely hear bird song – only the gentle cooing of the pigeons. Once, and only once did I hear a blackbird when I was in our ‘secret garden’ as I call it. I’ve heard a thrush overriding the roar of the traffic when walking in the street and I know that somewhere on our overburdened planet can be heard the dawn chorus.
As I have been writing this blog I heard the wonderful testimony of Corrie ten Boom. Prisoners in the terrible death camps, they had been summoned out for roll call in the early hours, at the mercy of the cruelty and abuse of their guards. How could they endure it? Then, far out of sight they heard a skylark thrilling. Day after day God sent this little bird to assure his suffering people that he was there, the God who says, ‘In all your affliction I am afflicted, and the angel of my presence saves.’
There is a hymn I love..
‘If the birds as they sing through the woods Send a murmur of song from each tree - then these lips too a tribute shall bring.’
Let’s listen to the message of the birds and with as much voice as we have, join them in praising our Maker.
I hear the doves sad cooing all day long,
But how I long to hear my blackbird’s song,
Though skylark’s far beyond my eye can see,
Singing and dancing there with ecstasy
Wise thrush still pours his joyous tune twice o’er
Though nightingale sings in night time even more.
Glad dawn when all unite, one joyous throng,
But still I need to hear my blackbird’s song -
‘Don’t be sad, Be glad! Be glad!
Don’t be sad! Be glad!
‘Twas in my grief you met me with this song
To teach me, e’en in pain, to sing along,
And He who shares our loss does still draw near
And sends him yet again our hearts to cheer –
‘Don’t be sad! Be glad! Be glad!
Don’t be sad! Be glad!’