Rise Up, My Love (52): When Do the Birds Sing?

Dan.Gold Finch? copySong of Solomon 2:12 “The time of the singing of birds is come.”  Singing birds speak of the joy, hope, and the blessed anticipation of fruitfulness. The king calls his beloved forth with a second blessing…not only the delight of flowers, but the joy of singing.  Flowers signify art; birds express music. Flowers adorn the ground with beauty; birds fill the sky with song.  Both flowers and birds are used as examples by our Lord of the Father’s special care. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26). Our heavenly bridegroom bids us follow him, not only because he has overcome the barriers of our past, but because he will provide for our every need in the present.  The flowers are arrayed more beautifully than Solomon; the birds are fed from the Father’s hand.  “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content (I Timothy 6:8). What need have we of more? Blackbird, red-wingedAnd yet, our Lord promises more—not more physically, but more spiritually—the hope of fruitfulness! This song of songs sings of the song of birds…but of what do the birds sing? When is the time of the singing of birds? It is not really in the summer.  In the summer, birds are too busy caring for their young.  Oh, in the north woods one can be awakened from sleep with the predawn praise of gold finches or the alarm clock racket of the crows, and one can be soothed in the evening by the haunting melody of the vesper thrush, but during the day, the robins are hard at work pulling up worms to fill the mouths of their hungry babies, and in the evening the swallows are busily swooping across the lakes in search of insects to take back to their nests. No, the time of singing is not in the summer. Swan leaving lake copyThe time of singing is not in the fall.  In the autumn there is an urgency about bird calls…a shrillness…a warning.  As the flocks of migratory birds darken the Birds, migrating copysky, it is the sound of calling each other on that can be heard.  It is not the time of singing, it is the time of military mustering and marching as they flee before the winter winds. Cardinal copyThe time of singing is not in the winter.  In the time of snows, most birds fly away to warmer refuges, leaving only a hollow silence and the wailing wind in their wake.  In the snowy regions of North America, the only voices heard often in the winter are the screeching jays, the rat-a-tat-tat of the nuthatch hammering his way down a tree in search of grubs, or the plaintive cries of the chickadees Cardinal, Female copyand chirping calls of sparrows. The birds fluff out their feathers and tuck their heads under their wings, shivering against the cold much like the hurried commuter, who pulls his collar up around his neck while filling his gas tank and tenses against the storm. No, neither man nor bird feels like singing in the grip of winter’s blast! Geese on frozen lakeThe time of the singing of the birds is not even early spring.  In early spring, the geese arrive and sit silently on our frozen lake, waiting for one of the warm Geese on melting lakesprings under the surface to melt its way up and meet the sun warming its way down until at last there is a pool of open water again.  One by one, the flocks of birds pass through…the purple martins, the grosbeaks, the Baltimore orioles. Soon the birds return in pairs to stay…those who nested in the area last summer: blue.heron_.lake_ copythe pair of great blue herons to the cat tails on the lake, the cardinals into the Robin, April 12, 2012willow which overhangs our waterfront, the robins to their nest over the “Welcome” sign by our front door, and the grebes and wood ducks…the geese   176 copyand swans return to the water’s marshy edge to nest. In late winter and early spring, the birds return and recuperate. Wood ducks in Rain, April 20, 2012The time of the singing of birds is late spring, after “the rain is over and gone,” and the reason the birds sing is for joy of love. “The time of the singing of birds” is the time of serenading…the time of proclaiming true love…the time of proposals.  Most birds mate for life, and in the spring, young birds sing to woo and win their mates.  Hopefully, already mated birds sing for joy, praising God for their wonderful mate and nest!  Hopefully, already married people do the same! Robin in lilac bush, April 19, 2012The time of the singing of birds is perhaps the time of greatest exuberance and freedom. Warmth, beauty, love, joy, excited anticipation! “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”  Come with me and enter into the joy of the resurrection life.  Come away with me and fill your eyes with beauty and your The Ducks copyears with music. Come away with me to the promise of love and our future fruitfulness together.  Leave behind everything that would tie you down, and come away with me!  Oh, how our hearts should overflow with love and our lips overflow with song in praise of the altogether lovely One who has called us to come away with him! Black bird, red-winged April 26, 2012

(*The first picture was used by permission of my friend, Dan A.)