Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My True Task

Red Bird Explains Himself

“Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.
But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.
If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.
And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body.  Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul.  And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.”

~ Mary Oliver ~
(Red Bird)

I watch and listen to the birds and find such connection to life! Maybe it's true ~ the task of the red bird or every bird is to teach us. It seems reasonable to me, for we do need "a song, a spirit, a soul." Early in the morning, at dawn, or just barely before, all the birds begin their songs. It's as if they can't help themselves. Their joy simply must be expressed!

And some mornings, after a rainstorm has cleansed us of all grief and sorrow, we might be able to join that red bird, recognizing that we too,are "both of the earth and of the inexplicable beauty of heaven."


  1. The red cardinals now remind me of Kristal and her story about the bird pecking at her window. I listen to the birds singing every morning. There are a few bird songs I don't recognize and my trusty bird book doesn't describe the songs. Hmmm.
    May have to make a new selection on Amazon!

  2. There may be iPad apps that have sounds & photos of various birds. I've been wanting to check. I know there are apps for the iPhone. Fun!