Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lenten Mercy-Meditation: The Bird of Christ

English Robin on Magnolia

This lovely poem, The Bird of Christ, (the English Robin) was written by the 19th century Welsh poet William Sharp. Why he wrote under, and vigorously protected, the pen name of Fiona Macleod  is of no concern. The poet's poems have been called word painting and word  tapestry. 

Holy, holy, holy,
Christ upon the Cross:
My little nest was near,
Hidden in the moss.

Holy, holy, holy,
Come near, O wee brown bird!
Christ spake, and lo, I lighted
Upon the Living Word.

Holy, holy, holy,
I heard the mocking scorn:
But holy, holy, holy
I sang against a thorn!

Holy, holy, holy,
Ah, His brow was bloody:
Holy, holy, holy,
I sang against a thorn!

Holy, holy, holy,
Ah, His brow was bloody:
Holy, holy, holy,
All my breast was ruddy.

Holy, holy, holy,
Christ's Bird shalt thou be:
Thus said Mary Virgin
There on Calvary.

Holy, holy, holy.
A wee brown bird am I;
But my breast is ruddy,
For I saw Christ die....


Holy, holy, holy is of course reminiscent of that part of the Mass which transitions us into the Eucharistic Prayer. It is the song of the angels and all of heaven before God's Presence! The poet is describing a sacred thing, a godly thing: how the robin came to have its bright chest. The little bird sang to console the Crucified Christ - brushing against his thorn-covered head.

But the poet begins with the lovely image of the bird's nest hidden in the moss. This kind of imagery fills Sharp's poetry and prose as his words sing of the wondrous and intimate fellowship we have with all of creation: quaking-grass, trees, stars, ocean tides, lichen, mountains and hills, streams, the woods and birds.

I knew a boy at school who was particularly hard-hearted, nasty and indifferent. When we went on a weekend monastery retreat I discovered that the sisters had planted a long row of rhododendron bushes along the drive. Lacking a sufficiently long hose to water them, the boy and I lugged buckets from the pond up to the bushes, giving each a summer-drink. 

Animals and plants, the soil, the insects, the water, the air - they're all part of our existence to awaken and sensitize our hearts and to teach us kindness and generosity. 

5 comments:

  1. Nature exists to bring Glory to our world. Neither the insects, nor the birds nor the largest beasts bring harm to the earth. We are the only living creatures who pollute God's gift. Nor do they start wars that wreak havoc in the earth and our species as a whole. We should learn from this English Robin. This lesson in mercy.

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  2. A simple act of watering plants to sustain life is a long term lesson. Sometimes an easy act of kindness is paid forward tenfold. I hope that the troubled kids you reached out to were able to take that with them on their journey as we do here.

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  3. I do love the personification of animalS iN literature. I always wish I could get in the minds of our little friends. If only they could really speak to us and tell us their thoughts.

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  4. While humans jeered and spat at Jesus, a little bird consoled him. What does this say of our nature?

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  5. I enjoy, how you bring these lovely birds into your posts. Nature allows us to feel peace and the greatness of God which adds to spiritual progress. Little acts of kindness grow the soul. These posts give so much energy.

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