A Pauper’s Song-bird Bride

brown bird on brown wooden fence during daytime

Lost in anguish, returning
Home to a meal of ash,
My stomach a bag of burning,
All is forced from my mind like a fast.

A sparrow scolded me from heights
And mocked my lonely misery.
“Where are you headed this dreary night
You miserable clod, where do you follow those feet?”

Then further on, I heard “You pauper of people,
Why do you travel alone, where is your mate?”
The scolding echoed familiar with a sting like needle;
“You’re filthy, with pockets empty so curse your fate!”

I let the little brown bird thrash me with its sorrow,
This I did deserve, for I had spent my last copper
In ending its joy, its nuptial bliss, an innocent sparrow,
So in my shame, I listened to a wounded mocker.

It was my effort, a vein attempt at washing clean,
But my inner guilt brought me to my knees,
And I cried, “Where is my God, oh maker of mine,
Who gives me this song tonight,
Who chides me with the mouth of a beast,
Am I not wiser than the birds of the sky?”
Then on me fell a burning light,
It scared my eyes and blinded me,
I screamed, “Oh God, Have mercy… Please!”

Then thundered from on high:

“Listen to my voice and fear me;
Brace yourself and listen, for I am about to speak.”
Who provides the birds YOU sacrifice?
Where do they get their food, their winter supply?
I did not need your blood-money;
It’s repulsive to me given in thankless fright.
If only you had brought me a dowry like a joyful bride!”
Then the sun like light chided me gently
As if to say: “It’s your inner heart I seek.”

It was then I knew the law had made me the mocker,
I had walked a broad road scoffing at the narrows.
Oh foolish me, oblivious to what His grace offers.
Joy had finally struck my heart with its elation arrow.

“But I have nothing left, my last cent is spent” I say.
He whispered, “I will pay for all your needs, even if it’s little.”
“My clothes are ragged and smelly; don’t ask me on a date!”
I gasped ashamed of my state, but my resistance was feeble.

Again, he reminded me that if we follow where he leads,
He knows us like no other, and cloths us like the lilies white.
He waters the fields and grows the crops we eat,
Even the birds live on what He provides.

“It’s too much!  Aba, please make a slave of me?” I ask,
“But do with me what you will, my Lord and King.”
Then He picked me up and held me in his grasp.
Tears of joy fell on my face, waking in me a stirring.

It was a song buried deep inside under layered scars,
A song of right made wrong, a long apart made one,
A bride under a canopy of shive-light stars,
A song of the battle won with more still to come.

I found myself standing still blinded by a fog of white
My insides burned and tugged in the direction of the voice.
It’s a sound like no other, and towards it I ran with all my might.
The race had begun, running towards Him the reason to rejoice.

Then almost as an afterthought, I called out to that brown little bird,
“Will you come with me to be my bride?  I can’t mend your heart or heal the hurt,
But I follow one who can.  I can’t meet your needs with ought but dirt,
But He promised, and you know He always keeps His word.”

She giggled and landed on my finger where she began my harmony song;
She shrilled a reminder of the voice so strong, that gentle voice for which I long;
She chirped an invitation to return straight and true when I became often wrong;
She kept me company, forgetting her mockery, remembering to whom we belong.

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  1. This was written while I was in the middle of reading C.S. Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy” autobiographical work. It contrasts a life under strict legalism with one guided by grace and motivated by love, for we love Him because he first loved us. When we finally grasp what this means, when our hearts are broken by it, that is when our Messiah takes his throne and the Spirit is able to work its power in our lives. That is what it’s like to be the bride of Christ, that is what it’s like to love your wife.


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