The birds’ notes rose in pitch and volume, then swung to a whisper, then reached a crescendo again, victorious, full of inspiration and joy. The difficulties facing this ethnically divided country were clearly the furthest thing from their little minds. Nearly 15 years after the official end of the war, Croatian Catholics, Bosnian Muslims, and Serb Orthodox are still learning how to live in the same cities, how to work together, and how to forgive.
I went for a walk along the narrow river and took in the scene—the potholed asphalt road lined with bench frames with no seats, the bridge that had been all but destroyed, the small café without doors or glass in the windows, the flowerbeds overrun with weeds. Don’t step onto the grass, I reminded myself. There could be mines! For a few moments I forgot about the birds. Why did this happen? Who was responsible for this mess?
As I neared the teetering remains of the bridge, I saw a bird on one of the rails. Could she remember? Could she have seen someone die here, or have heard the shooting?
Then the bird began to sing, and I forgot about all those questions. Her tiny body quaked as her song burst forth. The music seemed to come from all of her. The sounds poured out with such force and conviction that I wanted to sing too. She seemed to be singing about the rising sun, about a new morning, about the blue sky, about a new day full of hope, about beautiful flowers and the gentle forest, about cool, flowing, sparkling waters that wash the old away. She wasn’t thinking about how she looked or her performance. She was just singing with all of her being.
I don’t know how long I sat there watching her, but I forgot about everything else. I listened and sang along. I sang about the feeling of freedom I felt rising in me, about new possibilities, about new ways of looking at life, about a new day full of hope, about the beauty of creation and its gentle Creator, about a great love that washes away mistakes of the past. It felt good, it felt great, and it felt liberating.
Forget about ethnic differences. Forget about broken relationships. Forget about the other guy’s mistake that never ended in an apology. Learn from the birds. With all your being, with all your strength, just sing!
Psalm 45:7 ESV / You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
Isaiah 40:8 ESV / The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Hebrews 13:5 ESV / Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”