I grew up the child of older parents, who listened to Paul Harvey on the radio every day. Now, Paul Harvey was a man with a truly mesmerizing storytelling voice – a voice of pure silver and gold. If you don’t already know his Christmastime story of “The Man and the Birds” I have both printed it below and included a link to the Youtube site that contains the recording of Mr. Harvey himself reading it,
as nobody else could do it the proper justice.
Merry Christmas, all.
The Man and The Birds, by Paul Harvey:
Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as My Christmas Story, of “The Man and the Birds”.
You know, “The” Christmas story, “God born a man in a manger”, and all that, escapes some moderns. Mostly I think because they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one is so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced, I submit a modern parable.
Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men, but he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.
“I’m truly sorry to distress you”, he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas eve”, he said he’d feel like a hypocrite, that he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another. And then another; sort of a thump or a thud. At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly, he put on a coat and goulashes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.
He opened the doors wide and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail the yellow lighted, wide open door to the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried “shooing” them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn.
Then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could let them know that they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because 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 only I could be a bird”, he thought to himself “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm ———-
—- to the safe warm barn, but I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear, and understand.”
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells, Adeste Fidelis. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.
I love Thanksgiving. I had the best time at my brother-in-law’s house. What’s so awesomely cool about my bro-in-law, is that I knew him even before I met his brother….my husband. Our hilarity goes way back.
Our combined families, and father-in-law, and sister-in-law’s family, and friends had a hilarious and gustatorily satisfying couple of days!
I’m not a preachy religious person. I admire and respect other faiths and belief systems. I don’t proselytize. I just have many, many fond memories of growing closer to my God through Bible school and Sunday school and youth group as I was growing up and going through my formative years. One week spent in summer Bible school is one week not spent in front of a screen, playing video games, texting, listening to deafness-inducing music in one’s earbuds, or what-have-you. I enjoy leading story time. It takes me back to my dramatic roots. And Bible stories are helpful to a full Western civilization education.
So I’ve been busy decorating our church, preparing my story time room, and getting things ready for next week’s Bible school.
I hope that you, too, have ways to express yourself and your faith this summer – ways to volunteer to help out where needed – ways to minister to others, young and old – ways to make a difference in others’ lives, however you choose to do so – whether sacred or secular.
Can I get an Amen?
My foot got tangled in my power cord, causing my computer to crash resoundingly to the floor. I hurriedly picked it up, righted it, and sat before it, terrified I had damaged it. All appeared fine, until I realized the curser wouldn’t move, either when I moused or used the touch pad.
It was at that moment I realized how dependent I am upon my computer and my interface connections.
Upon forcing the computer to shut down, using the not-recommended-power button, and letting it turn back on, I realized that all was well. My computer was fine. I hadn’t broken it. Everything was okay. Even my daughters stood there waiting with me. They know how important it is to me.
I spend several days unplugged with my family each year, on vacations, trips, etc. I don’t necessarily miss being plugged in at those times. I enjoy nature, hiking, hanging out, spending time with kids, parents, spouse, etc. I enjoy my parents’ farm with its complete lack of 21st century amenities. (No internet, poor cell service, no DVR . . . ) My parents’ farm, which I will be venturing to later on this summer, is full of good things, like my mom’s cooking, my brother’s and father’s fresh garden glories – tomatoes, cucumbers, corn on the cob – invigorating political disagreements and arguments, board games, hay rides, creek hikes, hay bales, bright stars, night-blooming primrose, whippoorwills, bull frogs and coyotes.
I remember having a friend over one summer night, and she couldn’t sleep for how loud it was. We didn’t have air conditioning, and the summer time window was always open, letting in all of the night sounds. There were no traffic sounds, no loud music or television (everyone went to bed early) – only frogs, crickets, whippoorwills, and the occasional shrieking owl. (Those shrieking owls, by the way, are terrifying – think a woman being murdered, followed by the low moan of her murderer; it’s no wonder I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.) Things haven’t changed there. There are still all of those sounds. And, though my parents get satellite television, they still don’t have voice mail, an answering machine, or the internet. That’s crazy, right?
I guess I’m a child of two centuries. I feel connected to my world-wide social networking friends. I don’t like to go a day without writing and/or communicating with people online. But I also like the simplicity of shucking corn and shelling peas on the front porch with my mom and dad.
I’m not going to give up my computer, or my plugged-in life. But I’m not going to give up fresh vegetables and creek hikes either.
And I’m fine with that.
As long as I don’t have another scare where I drop my computer. So whenever this laptop dies, I might invest in one of those tough books that can survive being run over – one that can reach the internet even on my parents’ farm, where only satellite feeds dare to go – so that I can have the best of both centuries.
Okay, folks, here it is: the story of me and my daughters LOST in the dark, dark woods!
First, some background information.
My parents own a large property in southeastern Ohio. It is beautiful. It is also bordered on all sides by additional beautiful woodland and farmland properties. So, it’s A LOT of woods!
I am familiar with quite a bit of this property, but not all . . . clearly.
There used to be a beaver dam pond. My brother and I would start at the pond and follow the creek through the woods as it meandered on the edge of the property, until it finally reached the small bridge on the gravel road – where we would then follow the road back to the house. Occasionally, we would reverse course and start at the bridge, and hike to the beaver dam.
I shared this beautiful experience with my daughters on Tuesday in the early evening. They were impressed. It was peaceful and beautiful. My seven year old found five different colors of violet wildflowers. (blue violet, magenta violet, light violet, white and yellow: Did you know there are that many violets?) She also collected an old tortoise shell, a large piece of fungus that grew out of a tree log, a large maple seed helicopter whirl, and the jawbone of a deer. My eleven year old splashed as much as she could through the creek bed in her rubber boots. Happiness was had by all three of us.
On Thursday we decided to hike into the woods again, and I thought that for something different we’d reverse course.
We hiked for a long, long time without coming to the beaver dam pond. Mainly because it really wasn’t there anymore (the beavers having found better housing arrangements elsewhere), but also because I didn’t realize that if you go up the creek far enough, it forks into two separate streams. I have no recollection whatsoever of my father or my brothers ever informing me of this fact.
So we headed up the wrong creek. (Not knowing it at the time.) Eventually we all decided that we had hiked long enough, but I couldn’t find the trail back to the house. We left the creek and hiked around the woods, up hills, along paths, over and and over and over, and kept making the same circle back to this lonely old deer stand by a dead-ending tractor trail that literally led nowhere.
We got tired, and it got dark. I came within just a few yards of a very frightened gobbler turkey. That was exciting. We all got blisters from our rubber boots while hiking up and down “mountains” (big hills – but my little girl is dramatic). We hiked up the creek and then back down, never coming to the right trail, never getting back to the bridge – since we were on the wrong fork of the creek! We found a water fall, and at that I panicked a bit – because there was NO waterfall on the property that I knew of. We were somewhere far off in either the state property or a neighboring property – and I had no idea where!
Eventually it became too dark to see where we were going. It was late at night.
My cell phone was dead, of course.
I did not have a flashlight, of course.
I was an idiot.
I had my video camera but didn’t want to use up its charge either, since I was truly discombobulated and didn’t know which way to go. The girls were exhausted and scared. I maintained calm as best as I could, but the girls shed a few tears, got slapped in the face with briars, and almost puked from nervousness.
The little one had to go pee pee in the woods twice. She called it “marking her territory.” The older one refused to do this. Thankfully my bladder was strong that night.
We found a tree and leaned against it and rested. It got cold. In fact, I recalled the weather forecast saying that it was supposed to get down to freezing that night. Yippee. Little girl fell asleep lying against me. Big girl and I philosophized about it all.
Eventually I decided it was pretty darned late, and figured that my parents and older brother would be worried enough to begin looking for us. So, I stood up and was about to yell for help (again) to all four points. Older daughter said she really needed to pee but that she’d wait to drop trow until after I’d yelled for help. She said she figured if somebody hollered back and rescued us, she’d get to the bathroom fairly quickly and wouldn’t have to pee in the woods.
She was rewarded for her faith.
My brother shouted back to us and came towards us with a flashlight. We were exuberant! We were rescued! We were saved! The neighbor, on his four-wheeler, took older daughter away to the house to go to the bathroom. I carried younger daughter back up the trail – which was remarkably close, by the way – there’s nothing like getting turned around in the woods you grew up in…but in the dark? It happens. Younger daughter apologized for her wet jeans – aiming while “marking your territory” is problematic for girls.
We got back to my parents’ house dirty and tired. It was late, but we had some fortifying chocolate pie and baths as well as story time to calm us before bed.
So, there’s my story. I got nervous while we were lost, but maintained my calm so that my daughters wouldn’t get too badly upset.
They did forgive me, thankfully!
It felt oddly reminiscent of The Hunger Games. I was thankful that the only other living creatures we encountered was the turkey and a particularly loud hoot owl.
20 Things you might not know about RebeccaOfTomorrow:
(Warning: photos have little to do with these 20 things. They are mainly for your viewing pleasure. Well, they do illustrate #12 fairly effectively, I suppose.)
1. I have 3 older brothers, who are 15, 13 and 10 years older than I am – same mom and dad.
2. Following naturally from #1, I was (and still am) spoiled rotten.
3. These three brothers used to tell me bedtime stories, when mom or dad was not available. One of them liked to tell me the SAME story each time. Here it is: “Once upon a time, the end.” He frustrated me.
4. My brothers looked a lot alike to my myopic, astigmatic young eyes at night. Sometimes the only way I could tell them apart when they snuck in to wish me a late good night was to study their teeth in the moonlight. One of them had a crooked front tooth.
5. Somehow the four of us each ended up looking like the person we are named after. Our middle names were chosen after family members, and we grew to physically favor those people. Were our parents precognitive? There is no way that they could have known, as newborns, that we would grow to resemble our namesakes. But truth is stronger than fiction, I suppose.
6. I passed this down to my first-born. She has my middle name. She looks exactly like me.
7. I used to have a cat named Butterscotch Puddin’.
8. Now I’m hungry for butterscotch pudding.
9. I like board games. My favorites are (not necessarily in this order): Stratego, Pente/Go/Othello, Clue, Trivial Pursuit.
10. I grew up listening to whippoorwills sing outside my window at night in the summer. They were quite loud, but not as loud as the traffic in my husband’s hometown of Baltimore.
11. My favorite tree is the sugar maple.
12. I like to dress up in costumes (usually for Halloween, but I’ve been known to do so for other occasions) A LOT!
13. I love honey but am not fond of bees.
14. I have three paintings of people dancing in my house. I am a grammarian. That sentence contained a confusing participle. In my house I have three paintings of people dancing. I also know a really great artist. He could probably paint me three paintings of people dancing IN my house.
15. My favorite painting is Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. I’ve visited it twice at the Art Institute of Chicago. Yes, I have a copy of it hanging in my house as well. I also LOVE the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s my favorite art museum.
16. I still love Star Trek. I will always love Star Trek. People who don’t love Star Trek are either lying or confused.
17. I took piano lessons for nine years.
18. I saw my first shooting star while Christmas caroling on a cold clear night back in high school.
19. I love the state of West Virginia. It has some of the most breathtaking places in the whole wide world. My family has its roots there, and I love its rich history.
20. I have eaten buffalo, ostrich, alligator, squirrel, rabbit, grouse, quail, pheasant, duck, goose, squid, octopus, snail, muscle, clam, oyster, catfish, eel, lamb, goat, cow, pig, chicken and dove. I liked the squirrel, rabbit, grouse, quail, pheasant, duck, goose, squid, snail, catfish, eel, cow, pig, chicken and dove, but it takes too many doves to make a decent meal.
Well, I seem to have stumbled my way through deciphering the odd musings on that yellow piece of construction paper I wrote on the other night. I have written them into my story (well, mostly – still gotta comb through some details.) Yay, me!
I am also excited because some out of town friends are stopping through and dining with us at our local coffee shop this afternoon! Again, Yay, me! They wanted to meet us at Monkeez Brew because I wrote so lovingly of it in one of my earlier blog posts .
So, I’m taking elder daughter shopping for clothes that fit. (Hard to keep up with since she’s growing like a weed.) My husband laments the necessity of spending more money on clothes, but c’est la vie, I suppose.
Hope all of you in the blogsophere are enjoying your lazy Saturday, like I am. Maybe this evening I’ll find my muse again and churn out lots and lots of pages. (Of course that’s a bit problematic on the weekends, during family time!)
I am seated in my usual spot at my coffee shop. When I say my coffee shop, I cannot claim proprietary ownership, but I’m here a lot, and its owner is a friend….and I write here. So yeah, it’s mine .
Thing is, I’ve got my girls with me. How did MY coffee shop also become THEIR coffee shop? My eleven year old is seated on the banquette beside me, reading. I am so proud of her. She has really become a reader in the past year. She does it for pleasure now, not because I make her to. She stays up late at night reading until I have to yell at her to go to sleep . . . and then she keeps reading. As a result? Her grades are improving. They were good to start with; now they’re golden. She’s getting smarter! Reading is miraculous.
My seven year old is on the new family Kindle Fire. She is not reading, however, but playing on some game called “Where’s my water?” which is about trying to get water to flow down into a sewer system so that a friendly crocodile (or perhaps alligator) can take a shower. Hmm. Well, to each her own, I suppose.
The point is that they share my love of this neighborhood coffee shop. It feels like family here. It’s like Cheers without the alcohol. Here I can write with a buzz of uninterrupting conversation in the background. If I want companionship, I can have it. If I don’t, they leave me alone. It’s the perfect writing environment. I get a lot done when I’m here.
Unless, of course, I’m here with my daughters. Well, actually, they’re letting me write now….but that’s because they are diverted by their own interests .
Anyway, the local coffee shop phenomenon is interesting to me. There are fables of J.K. Rowling breathing life into Harry Potter in a coffee shop back when she was impoverished and needed a nice, warm place to write, with her baby in a pram and an endless supply of caffeine. I know I’m not J.K. Rowling, but I can understand that.
I hope my coffee shop never goes out of business, because I would be so lost without it. So, here’s to you Monkeez Brew. I love you. I love your ambiance. I love your people. I love your lattes. God’s blessings.
If any of you have a coffee shop like this, please share your stories!