“The Little Bird that Couldn’t”
He couldn’t remember why or how.
All he knew was that he couldn’t… he could not flap his wings.
Yes, he had wings, but they would not flap! Yes, he could stretch them out, but they would not flap. This is the story of the little bird that couldn’t. Such a sad story in the beginning, but what a happy ending!
“What good are wings that will not flap?” asked the wise old owl seeking to help him.
“I do not know, sir,” he answered in despair. “I was hoping you could tell me.”
“Hmmm,” the owl considered, trying to find an answer full of wisdom, because that was the job of owls in the bird kingdom, to have wise answers. But alas, he could think of nothing.
So the little bird continued on, walking wherever he went. It was not the way of birds to walk, but it had been his way for as long as he could remember, and not even the wise owl could give him any hope, as he continued walking.
He did not know this land, for he had walked many weeks now. He missed home, even though it had been a cruel place where the other birds laughed at him. But he just wanted to fit in, have friends, and a place to belong.
They called him, Flapless. “Here comes ‘Flapless’!” they would yell.
“Hey Flapless! We’ve decided to hunt for worms in the far meadow over there! See ya when you get there, if we’re not too old! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” they laughed while flying away. Finally, he just kept on walking one day, and thus his quest began. Surely someone could help him find an answer, or at least a place he would be accepted and make his home, but for weeks now it had been one dreary mile after another, and nothing but disappointments, like the not-so-wise owl.
As darkness settled in for another night, he found a spot at the base of a large tree and snuggled up. Sometimes, as he slept, he actually dreamed about flying! It was a wondrous thing! Every night as he closed his eyes he said a little prayer that he might fly. But it was only a dream; and even those were far and few between. He was a sad little bird. His heart broke more every day while he longed for something that should rightly be his, but for some unknown reason, was not.
When morning came he ruffled his feathers, shook himself, and came out. Then he stretched his wings a far as he could and tried to flap! Still nothing. “Oh well, at least my legs work, I guess.” Then he pecked the ground and swallowed a large worm before pressing on with the quest.
It had been three days since his encounter with the owl, three long and silent days. He was tired of only hearing his own voice, and thinking his own thoughts. “I wish I had someone traveling with me,” he said out loud, but again, no one was there to answer back.
Now the land before him was changing and he had a choice to make. Ahead was a fork in the road with a big tree standing tall. He stopped at the tree and looked to his right. To the right he saw nothing but very tall mountains, and who knew what dangers might lurk there, because he had never been in mountains before, and so they were strange to him.
Now to the left the road continued with lovely rolling hills, green grass, butterflies, and pleasant travel, but to the right it looked rocky, dangerous, lonely, and perhaps even cold. The answer seemed obvious as he started veering down the left path.
“Are you sure you want to go that way?” a voice asked.
“What? Who said that?” the little bird asked while looking every way about, but seeing no one!
“I did,” the voice said again, and it came from the tree!
“Trees don’t talk,” he reminded himself. “Am I going crazy?” But he could not help but have a closer look. So he cautiously walked over to the big tree, stared up into its leaves, and feeling rather silly asked, “Pardon me, Mr. Tree, but did you say something?”
“No,” came the reply.
Now the little bird was very confused and startled! For obviously the tree had spoken to him, but said, No! So if the tree did not speak to him then he was not going crazy, because trees do not speak and “no” was the right answer, but how could the tree not be speaking if he heard it say, No? So he was crazy either way!
“What am I going to do, what am I going to do?” the little bird fretted. “My journey has driven me crazy!” Then he hyperventilated and passed out.
The next morning, as the little bird regained his senses, he was surprised to find he had lay there all night! And now the sun was rising for the new day! Was he still hearing voices? If he spoke to the tree would it answer him again? Was he still crazy?
Picking himself up from the ground he shook the lingering dew from his feathers. “Guess no harm done,” he said, I’m just a little damp around the edges.”
“So you are, my fine feathered friend,” the voice came again.
Immediately, the little bird’s heart started racing again, and his feet wanted to run away! But he did not look up into the big tree as he focused on calming his heart, for there must be a great mystery here, and the answer he wanted to know.
Slowly, very slowly, he raised his head and dared to look up. He still had questions. “Okay, Mr. Tree, if you are not the one speaking to me, then who is?”
“It is I, the Wind,” came the answer. “You hear my words as I move through the leaves of this tree, but I assure you, as everyone knows, trees do not talk. How silly that would be, right?”
The little bird took a big swallow as he gulped and said, “Ha! Yes! Of course! How silly that would be! Everyone knows that trees do not talk! But the wind does?” came his nervous half frightened question.
“Of course, silly, but only to those who hear me.”
“Of course,” the little bird weakly agreed. “And I am one of those, I guess, right?”
“You are now,” the Wind replied. “But it has taken several weeks for you to be so. Most people are too busy ‘inside’ to hear my voice. Your many weeks of walking has quieted your soul, opened your ears, and now you hear.”
“I see,” he answered. “Of course, it all makes sense now. I should have known. Right?”
“Exactly!” the Wind answered. “For has it not been foretold by all the great prophets?”
“Yes, I think I remember reading that somewhere? I’m sure I did.” The little bird paused for a moment, before asking, “So if I move from this tree, will I still be able to hear you?” “No. You’re not that good yet. Don’t flatter yourself. You really have a lot to learn.”
“Yes, you do,” the Wind confirmed. “Tell me, what is your name? For I have been watching you for weeks, but have not heard your name.”
The little bird hesitated. Whatever his real name had been, it had gotten lost in all the name-calling. Even his own brothers and sisters had called him various names once it was discovered he could not flap, but eventually one name stuck, and everyone began saying it, “My name is, Flapless,” he said, with his head turned down.
“Flapless?” the Wind repeated, as if pondering. “Ahh, you have been given a great gift. That explains a lot.”
“It does?” Flapless questioned.
“It does,” the Wind confirmed. “It explains why you hear my voice, and why you have been walking alone for so long that your soul became very quiet, so that you could hear me. Most people are so busy ‘flapping’ that they never really hear. Sometimes they pause for a moment thinking they heard something, but then they rush back to their flapping and never give it a further thought. But you, my little bird, cannot flap! And now you are beginning to hear.”
“Wow,” Flapless thought, “a great gift. But what does it mean? What can I do with this gift? I still wish I could fly. But he was afraid to speak any of these thoughts out loud.
“So, do you trust me, Flapless?” the Wind asked.
“Trust you? I hardly know you,” he answered.
“That is right, you hardly do, but you need to.”
“Why do I need to?” Flapless asked.
“Because I am ‘All-Knowing’,” the Wind answered.
Silence followed that final statement. Everything the Wind had asked, it asked for the benefit of the bird, for it knew all things, and had no need to hear any answers, only Flapless did.