Friday, July 27, 2007

A Bird Named Promise

For five weeks, a misguided little bird has pecked on four of our home windows. She’s some type of grayish bird with a tuft of feathers on top. It’s obvious we’re not ornithologists.

A snippy little thing, she pecks and taps, and then flutters her wingspread against the shiny glass barriers. She’s becoming bolder and doesn’t zoom off as often. Perched on a small twig, looking into our home, her head twists this way and that when I tell her she’s wasting her life. But, maybe her life is not so barren because she inspired this column and reminded me of a song.

In 1905, Dr. and Mrs. Martin (Civilla) visited in Elmira, New York. While there, they formed a deep friendship with the Doolittles. The wife had been bedridden for nearly 20 years, and her husband, an incurable cripple, propelled himself to work in a wheelchair.

The Martins took note of the Doolittle’s happy Christian lives, how they inspired others with their cheerful outlooks. When asked for their secret, Mrs. Doolittle answered, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

Cavilla Martin said, “The beau­ty of this sim­ple ex­press­ion of bound­less faith gripped the hearts and fired the imag­in­a­tion of Dr. Mar­tin and me.” The very next day, Cavilla mailed her poem/lyrics to composer Charles Gab­ri­el, who set the words to music. The hymn “His Eye Is on the Spar­row” was the out­come.

Today, I named my miscued bird Promise. I call her that because she reminds me of a security from God, one that involves his care of birds and us. When Jesus taught his followers about trust in God, he told how a common sparrow will not fall to the ground apart from God’s will. “So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Jesus also threw in the fact that the hairs of our heads are numbered, and with shedding, that’s a daily tallying, intimate knowledge of our bodies. Isn’t that comforting? That’s one reason to sing, that God knows everything about each person, from “irrelevant” information to the more pertinent things.

Poor little Promise is off her flight pattern. On a daily collision course, she’s out of step with her winged sisters. She gets up early, catches worms, and then worries at my windows. Maybe this is her destiny, but I wish she could supplement it with more soaring and singing.

We are God’s chorus of songbirds. We are in God’s line of vision, and despite barricades, we can croon the Doolittle inspired refrain: “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

Visit Cathy at

1 comment:

  1. I liked this post. It's a good reminder that in all the chaos of the world, God DOES watch out for us all.