Long ago when Georgia’s rivers were silver, two of them flowed – not far apart- into the great sea. One cold, gray twilight when the days were short, the wind spoke to the animals and the forest in the land between the rivers.
“Tonight,” the wind whispered, “you must stay awake and watch and wait, because a great happening may come upon you. What or where it will be I cannot say. But there will be a sign. After this night nothing will be the same. Stay awake then and be ready.”
The wind sighed away across the amber marshes, the twilight deepened and the stars came out. The animals and the birds and the trees and the shrubs took counsel together. Most of them were doubtful, some downright scornful. “Who can believe what is whispered by the Wind?” they said. And one by one they fell asleep, the deer and the foxes, the squirrels, and the shaggy bears in the swamp. Even night wanderers like the raccoons and opossums sought their dens. The voices of the birds were stilled. They closed their eyes and slept.
All except one small, brown bird. “Someone should stay awake”, he said to himself, “and be ready. I must wait and watch.”
He sought a brush or a tree to perch in, but none of them wanted him. “We have your kind all day,” they grumbled. “We need our rest at night.”
Then one tall, leafless shrub took pity on the bird. “Here,” it said. “I don’t mind. Perch on one of my branches and I’ll stay awake and watch with you.”
So the forest slept, and everything in it except the brown bird and the tall bush. Near midnight a mighty star suddenly appeared in the sky. Silently it moved across the astonished heavens, and the bird and the shrub watched until it disappeared over the rim of the Earth.
When the stars turned pale and sun rose out of the sea all the creatures of the forest were amazed, because everywhere among the branches of the tall bush were crimson blossoms, glowing like rubies amid the emerald leaves. And on the topmost twig perched a bird of flame, its scarlet plumage brighter than the sunrise.
And the wind came again and whispered to all the creatures, “See, this is the reward of faith.” So it was and so it still is that we call the bush a camellia, and the bird a cardinal and every creature in the forest knows why they are as they are.
From: “Through Many Windows” by Arthur Gordon
Merry Christmas –
Ray Kenneth Clark
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