Have you ever hummed a catchy tune or song which stayed in your head as if stuck on continuous replay? No matter how diligently you try to purge your mind of the sound, it keeps on playing … unceasingly and completely involuntarily like a broken record! Even if you love the particular music, after a while you find it irritating to say the least … and at worst it can drive you crazy! Then suddenly to your amazement, it vanishes with no explanation … peace and quiet reigns in your head once more. The human mind is amazing isn’t it?
Something similar happened to me this week leading up to Christmas, but instead of repeated music, a vivid vision flashed before my mind’s eye! It arrived unexpectedly and refused to leave. It wasn’t just that it recurred several times a day throughout the week, it was more the poignant nature of the subject that grabbed me.
It struck a chord in my heart and touched my soul.
“Robin, Robin!” The stooped elderly gentleman called out from the front doorstep of his house, his breath penetrating the wintry air in misty wisps. “Where are you Robin?” he queried, peering across the frosty lawn in search of his feathered friend, all the while gesturing with his hand to reveal crumbs of bread that might tempt the little red-breasted bird to appear.
Persistently, this kindly bearded soul whistled softly to the robin. “I’m here Robin! Robin, Robin, where are you?”
The Robin doesn’t come. His friend is nowhere in sight, so reluctantly and clearly disappointed, my Dad steps back into the warmth of his house. He’s alone.
I feel sad.
As I said, this apparition appeared in my mind several times a day this week. I didn’t tell anyone … just kept it to myself because it was upsetting … but it also puzzled me. Why? Why this particular scenario with the robin? Why is my mind producing this picture now? At this time?
Do you ever ask yourself these kinds of questions? Do you take time to wonder about things? Do you ponder the meanings of occurrences such as these?
Christmas is the most joyful, wonderful event of the year … a time for family, for love, for giving and for rejoicing over the birth of our Savior, but we must also remember that for many it’s a time where their loneliness and sadness is amplified and some feel a sense of hopelessness.
I thought about my friend with no Christmas decorations this year, caring for her husband after a stroke, another friend who had a terrible fall and fractured her patella, a client who confessed she has no reason to keep on living. This time of year can be as challenging … or more so … than any other time, even amidst the joyous Christmas carols, the bright lights and the merriment of people.
It’s Christmas Eve and all is calm in the house, all is bright from the tree lights. I’m the only one still up. My eyes dart around the quiet living room. Presents under the tree await morning discovery. The fragrance of winter berries linger from the freshly extinguished candle. Cookies and milk anticipate jolly Santa’s arrival.
I savor a few moments of silence … alone with my own thoughts.
My mind wanders back to this morning and my daily call with Dad. He and I haven’t mentioned the robin since my visit in September. I certainly didn’t share my recurrent vision of him calling for the Robin … who didn’t come. I had even stopped questioning why the vivid scenario wouldn’t leave me. I figured it was just inexplicable.
But this morning during the call to my Dad, I commented on his being alone tonight on Christmas Eve. Imagine how astounded I was when from out of the blue this comment came. “When I opened the front door to check the mail, the robin was waiting there, so I went back in and brought him some bread crumbs, which he happily gobbled up!”
My Dad sounded happy to see his friend the robin.
My heart filled with joy and my soul began to sing! Who would have thought? The Christmas Eve Robin! The simple joys of life that can make a huge difference. But this isn’t the end of the story. I decided to do a little research on the meaning of the robin.
It turns out that in ancient folklore, the appearance of a robin is significant. The robin symbolizes joy and spiritual renewal. It is a welcome visitor to the garden and if someone you love recently passed, it can convey the message that they’re watching over you and you’re still loved.
Apparently there’s a legend too! A legend from long ago about the birth of Christ! The story goes that the robin got its red breast tending to the fire in the manger. As the fire began to burn out, a tiny brown bird appeared singing and flapping its wings. This made the embers glow brightly, re-igniting the fire. Some of the red-hot sparks landed on the bird breast making it glow bright red. Mary declared the bird and its descendants would forever wear a red breast as a sign of the bird’s kind heart.
Now alone with my thoughts, I think about the real meaning of the Christmas season and I am filled with wonder at the hope that accompanies it. I love that hope never shouts loudly, but rather it whispers quietly … confident assurances … for a joy-filled heart, for good health, for a better future, for peace in the world … and it provides the hope for everlasting life though Jesus Christ.
Thank you Lord!!
I begin to hum a favorite carol as I head for bed! I chuckle to myself! Long may it stay in my head … and replay again and again all year!
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”