Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Songbird

Listen… listen. Head tilted, eyes half closed, the man listened. The thrush sang so enchantingly today. If luck was with him, he knew that he would not have to wait long for the answer from the other side of the bushes. Yes! Listen... there was the female… ah, she did not disappoint him. Oh, just listen… a little concert, all for free.

“Would you like to have French beans for dinner?” His wife’s voice beside him cut through the duet of nature. Everyday concerns returned with a little jolt, and the birdsong receded into the woodland background.  The man turned towards his wife with a disturbed glance. What in heaven's name was she talking about?
"What did you say?" he asked rather brusquely.
"If you would care for French beans tonight, maybe with a braising steak?"
"Woman! What has gotten into you? How can you think of braising steak right now?"
"With French beans." his wife added kindly, apparently unaware of having done anything wrong. "You do like that, don't you?"

The man looked at his wife as if at a stranger. Was it really possible to live on a totally different wavelength after so many years together? The thrush was now singing its heart out, right above them. Could it really be so that she did not even notice? He was astonished. His wife's reaction was beyond his comprehension.
"Why are you looking like that? Did you lose your tongue?" She nudged him, uncomprehending. "Or do you prefer French toast with rhubarb? It's at its best at the moment!"

Oh dear lord, she really did not hear the bird. The man inhaled with a slow whistling sound, pulled himself together, then patiently answered: "No, French beans is fine, you already have them in the house, after all." He thanked the thrush in spirit for its beautiful song. "Come dear, let us walk further," he said, and took her hand with a gentle gesture.

That evening at the dinner table his wife was very quiet, toying with her food. A little concerned, he asked: "Anna, is something wrong?"


She seemed to come from far away, answering him with a distant look: "How enchanting that was this morning. Did you hear it too? First the male, and then the answer of his lady friend... two voices, one song!" 
She paused a little, pondering, as if nodding in agreement over something.
But it was her husband who bowed his head in silence at her words:  "As long as I keep a greening twig in my heart, the songbird will always come."

To the memory of my mother who always kept a greening twig in her heart.


  1. Thank you for the wonderfully touching story about the married couple. It starts humorously with the husband exasperated by his wife's seemingly lack of appreciation of the birds' singing. Most married people, husbands and wives, can certainly recognize the experience of being frustrated by the other partner. The ending is priceless. The husband suddenly realizes that his wife was more deeply in tune (no pun intended) with the birds than he was. What is interesting to me is what the birds signify in the story. The birds were singing in unison, "two voices, one song." They represent two beings united in love and sharing a common purpose. This is in contrast to the lack of a close connection of the couple. Certainly there may be great love, but there is a disconnection too. The husband views his wife through the filters of his mind - judging her to be less than ideal. His wife appeared wistful, and could it be that she was sensing the longing for the type of oneness of heart the birds seemed to express. “Would you like to have French beans for dinner?” may be a love song from his wife that he was not aware of. After all it's only French beans and here are these wonderful birds singing and my dear wife is distracting me! So often we take for granted the miracle of people around us. I think it's because we tend to see them through the labels we have of them, through our mental and emotional filters. Everyone is a divine embodiment. Each one of us is infinitely more that any role we may be playing on our short sojourn on earth, and we are more than any judgment anyone may have of us. In this way we can appreciate the miracle of presence, of Spirit, of all people, even the ones who give us grief! In this spirit we can create our love song by singing our response, "Yes dear I would absolutely love French beans for dinner!"

  2. Such a touching story, Emma. And an effective reminder (which we know!) that women are way better at multitasking than men! The woman could give her attention equally to the beauty of the birdsong and to thoughts of the coming dinner that she would prepare. Such a simple love is expressed here.

  3. What a wonderful reaction, Joseph! I was thrilled and touched by the way you turned the question around and, insightful as always, placed the focus upon what the man's wife said. Her own 'love song' was expressed in her wish to present her husband with a tasty meal that she knew would please him, and was in its own way no less loving and attentive than his earlier remark to her. And thank you, David, for the nugget of truth at the heart of my little story!
    In the end every woman on this planet knows that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach! I'll happily cook beans for the both of you anytime!

  4. Ik luisterde gisteren samen met mijn dochter naar het lied van de zanglijster. Samen waren we stil en ontroerd.... Wat mooi om hier een verhaal te treffen, die de lading van dat bijzondere moment volledig verwoord!

    1. Zo mooi toch, Hannah... hoe we ons allebei geraakt wisten door de zang van de lijster ... in stille Verwondering. Dank je wel!