Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

It’s been a rough week with my tummy acting up, a good friend undergoing the stress of major surgery, and Christmas looming. Which all means I’ve been in a blog – slog. So I’m falling back on an old favorite and once again sharing Mary’s Sparrow with you. If you’ve read it before, thank you. If you haven’t I hope you enjoy. Go ahead and pass it on. Print it out, mail it to friends. You have my permission. JUST – don’t give away the ending. Okay? May God’s blessings shower down upon you this Christmas.


Mary’s Sparrow
By Susan Sundwall

     Twigs snapped and feathers swirled as the little bird landed hard on the tree branch. The terrible storm that dashed her nest to the ground had blown furiously, lifting her high and away into the sky. Chilly desert air settled around her as night fell. Alone and frightened, she tucked her head beneath a tiny wing and tried to sleep.
     When dawn broke there was no friendly bird chatter to comfort her. The ancient wind-bent tree stood alone over a battered stone well on a long stretch of road.
     Ting-ching. Ting-ching. The bird picked her head up at the strange sound. Harness bells danced to the rhythm of a caravan and she watched a ragged line of camels come towards her. The camel driver gathered the animals to the well and one plodding old camel stopped beneath the branch where the bird sat. The man in the saddle nibbled on a seed cake. It looked so good!  
     The camel looked up. “Are you out here all alone?”
      “Yes,” the little bird said, “My home was blown to bits and I don’t know where I am.”
     “Come with us,” said the camel kindly. “We are near the end of our journey. You may find shelter in the village where we stop.”

     The little bird perched between the camels’ ears, and as the day wore on the road became more crowded. Whole families traveled together and children darted about,
laughing and tossing stones. One lady, riding on a donkey, smiled to see a bird riding between the camel’s ears.
     “Small friend,” said the camel as they entered a noisy street, “our journey has ended and you will have to find your own way now. May fortune shine upon you.”
     The little bird was sad to leave the kind camel, but she was excited by all the activity in the bustling streets of the village!
     The market stalls were filled with wonderful sights and smells. Great mounds of figs and dates were piled high on rough wooden tables. Baskets filled with olives and jugs of fragrant oil sat in the shelter of billowing tents. Fisherman and weavers called out to eager shoppers. The little bird flitted among them snatching stray bits of food.
     “Get out!” The shadow of a huge foot suddenly hovered above her small head. “Silly sparrow! Garbage bird!” The mans’ eyes were cold and mean.
     Fear flew with her as the bird scurried to the doorway of a crowded inn where people ate coarse bread and drank small bowls of steaming coffee. As she darted for fallen breadcrumbs a tall woman stepped on the little birds tail, crushing two feathers. How it stung! Shuddering into a corner near the window, the small creature thought of how she missed the kind camel and the comfort of her own nest. Then, through eyes blurred by tears, the bird saw the lady who had smiled at her from the donkey. The lady’s husband asked the innkeeper for a room.
     “No! The inn is full!” blurted the innkeeper. “Shall I put you in the stable? Ha!”  
     “We can go to the stable,” said the man calmly.
     The innkeeper waved them on and bellowed at a servant boy. “Ho, boy! More wine, we  have thirsty travelers here; rich merchants who will pay well!” Then he disappeared into the crowd.
     That poor lady is tired and hungry just like me thought the little bird. Something inside urged her to follow the man and his lady as they made their way to the back of the inn.
     The stable was dark; strewn with old rags and dirty straw. The donkey groaned as the lady climbed down. The man busied himself trying to make her comfortable.
     “Psst,” the little bird called, peering down from a low rafter.
     “Who’s there?” asked the donkey, looking about him.
     “It’s me, a tired, hungry sparrow,” said the bird. “Will you help me?”
     The donkey glanced at the bird and then turned to the lady who began crying softly into her hands.
      “She’s crying!” said the sparrow.
      “She’s having a baby soon,” said the donkey. “And a dirty stable is no place to lay a little one. The journey here has been long.”
      “I saw clean straw in the market stalls!” cried the sparrow. She raced away and found some golden strands in a basket under a bench near the door of the inn. She flew  swiftly
between stable and streets, dipping here and tucking there to place each piece just so. At last there was a golden bed of clean straw for a newborn baby to lie in, safe and warm.
   The little bird now ached with hunger, but before she could ask about food again she heard beautiful singing. Through a small hole in the thatched stable roof the night sky glimmered. It beamed bright as morning and the stars shone like silver. She flew to the roof and poked her small body through the hole.  The unearthly singing made the little bird’s heart swell with joy and wonder. When the sound faded, she looked back into the stable and saw – the new baby!
     The lady looked so tired but she rocked her little son and kissed his plump cheeks as she tenderly laid him on the bed of clean straw.
      The bird drifted down and slumped against the rafter. With a contented heart she watched the mother and newborn child. The lady’s gentle voice drifted up to her. 
     “Come little bird,” she said, looking up. She lifted a palm towards the bird. “You made a soft bed for my precious child and I must thank you.”
     The little sparrow’s wings barely carried her to the upheld hand, but how warm it felt when she rested there!
     The lady stroked the sparrow’s downy head and hummed low in her throat. As the little bird closed her eyes, she thought of her ruined nest. She remembered the kind camel and the child lying in the clean bed of straw. Then she laid her head over, breathed a few gentle breaths and died. She was simply too weak and too hungry to live for another  moment.
     When the lady, Mary, saw that the little bird had died, a deep sadness filled her heart. How hard the bird had worked to make a bed for her baby, Jesus. I must always remember what this small bird did for us tonight, she thought. So Mary told the story to her son and he remembered it always. Wherever Jesus went he told people about the sparrow. Even today we recall what he said. “For God sees even the little sparrow when it falls.” And so He also sees you.

Image: Free Digital Photos


  1. Well, Sue... you KNOW this is my favorite Christmas story and the best gift I could ever have would be to see this published. I have hope that the right publisher will see what a find it is, a true Christmas classic. When it comes out... and it WILL, I will buy a copy for everyone in my family and my closet friends and even for a few libraries. That's my promise. I know a classic when I read one. A great illustrator and you will have a best seller. Mark my words. Thanks for sharing it again. And hope you feel better soon. :o)

  2. Cindy, you are a sweetie and most ardent fan of this story. Bless you. I submitted it most recently to Pauline Press, but alas, they rejected it. "Didn't fit their editorial needs." Blech. It may not be a story publishers think will appeal to children or their parents because of the way it ends. Who knows? But one day, maybe. If God wills.

  3. Hi, Susan:

    I hope you are much recuperated from your stomach troubles, and I love the term "blog-slog." Clever!

    I enjoyed this story immensely and felt like I was in the market myself as the weary travelers neared the inn. Am I mistaken, or have I read imagery of trees and birds in your writing before? Those provide a beautiful contrast of something heavy and rooted, and another thing light and darting.

    I've always noticed the mention of the sparrow in particular in the Bible, and this is a warm tale drawing from that well.

    I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Wishing you a joyous New Year!

  4. Hi, Janette. Perhaps you've read a poem or two of mine. I do love trees. The contrast you suggest is lovely. Never really thought of it. Blessed be your Christmas and the New Year, as well. Hugs.