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The Wee Birdies


I make my way though the dark of the garden at night. The snow that had fallen earlier today has frozen to ice and with each step it crunches beneath my feet. The path leads me under the bare boughs of the willow tree and my cold fingers fumble with the bird feeder. I carry it into the house to refill it and then hang it back in its place. The wee birdies (as they’re so called by the Scots) will not have to go hungry tomorrow even though the ground is frozen over. I wish it was my unselfishness that had remembered them, but it was my older neighbour who asked me to fill the feeder as she herself has been unwell and even this simple task is too much of an exertion. I’m glad she asked me. It reminds me that in this season where we are rushing about to buy; to give; to make sure we get; to make sure we keep Christmas about Christ by remembering (occasionally) why we celebrate; even now Christ cares about something as much as the wee birdies that have no warm house or ready meal when the nights are cold.

Last night I discovered that the gift I had beautifully wrapped for a close friend, which lay waiting under the Christmas tree, was not as perfect as I’d thought it was. The item came up randomly and to my chagrin, my well-thought out gift that I’d planned ahead for and had bought a month and a half in advance would only be welcome because it came from my hand and not because it, in itself, was wanted. As I lay in bed before falling asleep, I found myself racking my brain to think of something meaningful that I could rush out and get for her last minute. My careful planning to avoid shopping in the last few days leading up to Christmas was thrown to the wind and I found myself trying to figure out if I could get into busy Glasgow, without the kids, to (hopefully) buy a welcome substitutionary gift. As we sang meaningful songs this morning in church I still found my mind wandering to the nagging question of what THE item could be. But then God grabbed my attention… through the sermon… and I listened. The man up front talked of how Christmas had become some worldly cycle of trying to out-do ourselves and putting ourselves under financial pressure to make sure we ticked off all the cultural ‘to dos’, the necessary gifts, the hurried last minute ‘buys’ because we must get them SOMETHING. And I was doing this in my mind… in the middle of church. Suddenly, I knew what I was to give my dear friend and my heart lurched a bit, but I also felt good about sacrificing something dear to me.

I have a plant. She is a kalanchoe and her name is Felicity. She only cost me a couple of pounds and she’s been in my possession for about two or two and a half years. She lives in a white tin pot painted in coloured polka-dots and she lives in the warmest, lightest place in the flat– the windowsill in Johnny’s room. I have faithfully cared for her and trimmed her of any dead foliage, watering her weekly, but she wouldn’t bloom. Finally, after following some advice from a friend with a green thumb, Felicity has broken forth in a multitude of small buds. They have grown larger and larger and I think that she will be in full bloom in the beginning of the new year. And this dear little plant, who I’ve talked to and gently handled was what I felt God wanted me to give to my friend.

Perhaps my friend won’t love my wee plant as I have loved her. But she will know that it is a gift from my heart. It is not about consumerism. It is about giving a part of oneself, about true giving no matter how great or little the cost. Every now and then God asks me to give up something that means a lot to me. Part of it is to keep me from becoming too attached to ‘things’. Part of it is to remember that there is a cost in true giving, but that this kind of sacrifice is something beautiful.

And in this time of year when the economy, the salespeople, the advertisements, are in a frantic state to get us to buy, buy, buy, it is good to remember that there is more to Christmas, more to life, than what we get, or even how much we give out. There is joy in simple things. There is joy in true giving. And there is joy in the memories that we make (which rarely has to do with the presents!). And so I savour my walk in the cold of the garden to bless the wee birdies with food. And so I give a gift that means something to me. And I remember Christ.

4 Responses to “The Wee Birdies”

  1. John Clancy
    December 20th, 2009 18:09

    Sweetie, that is so lovely! My heart leaps at the gift of simplicity which God has given you. I admire it, and learn from your pursuit of the things that matter in life. Thanks!

  2. Jessica
    December 21st, 2009 17:11

    Rachel, how beautiful and poignant. As always, thank you for sharing from your heart. I love you.

  3. Bri
    December 24th, 2009 09:12


    This was lovely. Thank you for the gentle reminder. Missing you this Christmas.


  4. Jayne
    January 28th, 2010 16:23

    You are a dear. I miss you. I loved your birthday Christmas wishes. Blessings

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