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I Know Why the Caged Bird Died

I Know Why the Caged Bird Died

photo credit: John&Fish via photopin cc

photo credit: John&Fish via photopin cc

It was the early morning–one that marked a mere four or five weeks since the moment I had first become a mother. That early hour, when the sun started coming up yet I had been awake, off and on since who knows when. My days were confused–day and night meant nothing–because my newborn and I were living in the three-hour increments of feeding, sleeping and doing it over again.

We were visiting my husband’s hometown in order to attend his high school reunion. I had forgotten my first-time-mother accoutrements that seemed necessary at the time, so the nighttime routine of nursing and sleeping and nursing again was off.

It was in those early hours when I finally got the baby back to sleep, tucked away in his little crib, that I stumbled back to bed myself, exhausted, relieved.

But that’s when I heard it.

What sounds like music to the ears of more sensitive or compassionate or loving people than I, was the sound that made my weary body leap out of bed and run into the kitchen.

The bird. Appropriately named “Bird”.

The parakeet in the kitchen was singing its sweet tune in the early morning hours of a random Saturday.

That bird.

All I could think in my sleep deprived state was that stupid bird–doing what God designed it to do–was going to wake my baby and keep me from sleeping my allotted 2 1/2 hours before feeding again.

Why in the world did it need to sing so loud? So loud!

So I stormed up to that poor bird’s cage and I stuck my finger in the direction of it’s little bird face. My hair was disheveled. I’m sure I snarled. And I continued to point and hiss under my breath.

“Listen, Bird, you listen to me and you listen good. I’m tired. Tired! And you are singing way too early. If you wake my baby up with your tweeting and whistling . . .”

Point. Snarl. Point.

“…you will be sorry! You hear me!? Sorry!”

I stormed back to the room full of righteous fury and flopped myself in bed, satisfied that I gave that bird a good tongue-lashing.

Sweet sleep finally came.

I woke hours later to feel as refreshed as someone with a newborn can–joining the land of the living and seeking the real start of my day.

That’s when I saw it. I hadn’t noticed the silence.

On the counter, a ziplock bag. In it, a bird.


I frantically looked at my husband and wondered what kind of crazy person would put his parents’ bird in a bag on the counter. What’s going on? What’s happening here?

“The bird’s dead. I found it when I came out this morning,” he said. Simply. As if one finds dead birds on their way to the coffee every morning.

But, but . . .

His parents left earlier and had not yet seen their dead bird. And so it waited, in a ziplock bag, on their counter.

I stared in disbelief. How could this be? It was only a few hours since I had seen it alive. I had laid eyes on that singing bird, in the pale sunlight of that very morning.

And I had hissed. And pointed. I had been the last human being that bird saw before it died. And I was hideous.

I was so worried about what my in-laws were going to think. I didn’t believe I had killed the poor bird but I knew I acted in a way that was shameful to a life God had put on this earth.

Jesus’s words–you know, the ones in red? “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)


Do I believe I was harboring evil in the heart of that sleep-deprived mama, stumbling through those early days? I was tired! Traveling! And did I mention I was tired and tired? Come on–give a girl a break, right?

I do know that Jesus said what comes out of my mouth comes from my heart. What came out of my mouth that morning was not good. Not good at all.

But evil? We like to assign that word to people who do things we only see on TV. We like to say that word when atrocities are committed. But if we look at evil as the opposite of good and right and true? The opposite of the goodness of God? Then, yes. Evil. We are all capable of it.

In fact, I was capable all over that poor bird that morning.

So, my in-laws came home. They saw Bird. I cracked and spewed the story all over them in shame and fear. I pointed! I yelled. I was so mean to your bird! And it died. I was the last face it ever saw! The face I use to gaze upon your blessed grandchild, the face that looks with love upon your son, was horrible to your bird. I’m sorry. So, so sorry.

I don’t want to be one person to those I love and another to the ones that I don’t.

Despite my circumstances, I want my words and life to reflect the One who created it all.

Even birds. Poor, poor Bird.

He was disposed of and the matter was quickly put to rest. My in-laws were so gracious and in fact, it has become a favorite family-gathering type story. It’s the source of much laughter and joking around a table of people who love each other. Remember the time Katie killed the bird with her crazy, epic, sleep-deprived scream-fest?

We laugh. I laugh. It’s another story in my book.

But more importantly, I learned something on that early, sleepy, bird-song morning. I learned about heart stuff. And how it overflows.

Despite tired. Cranky. Joyful. Relaxed. Sick. Healthy. Empty, full. I want my heart to sing like a sweet, sweet bird all the days of my life. It requires living by another tune written in words of red.

May the overflow of my heart be a song to Him.

Can you relate? Has there ever been a time when your heart overflowed and surprised you? 








  1. I definitely know how that feels. Thank you for sharing your heart and very wise words with us today.

    • Thank you, Tracee. We all do have those moments. But my goal is to have them less and less as I grow closer in my relationship with God. Only He can stop crazy people from yelling at a bird. :) Ha!

  2. Sydney Weaver says:

    You had me laughing, almost teary-eyed and hit home to the heart of the matter. I want to be more like HIM in all things.

    I have to smile because I love birds! I love that you realized, too, how God had put that one bird on the earth. For me, the sound of a bird is a remembrance of my daughter in heaven :)

  3. I have so been there…I remember those sleep-deprived days and nights so well, and the heart-evil that spewed out as a result. Thank you for putting “skin on” and “words to” a great truth that we so often forget. Love your blog. Love your writing.

  4. There have been a few times in my life where I acted like a total fool, an idiot, a crazy lady, and probably seemed a tad irrational… Where I screamed at someone for, really, a reason that was certainly not worthy of screaming, or even showing my crazy side to. I live with regret in those instances. I know God has forgiven me, and in the instances where I could ask for forgiveness, I did. But why couldn’t I hear God asking me (underneath my temper tantrum) that aren’t I aware that He loves this person as much as me? Certainly if I thought with my heart, or better yet, a heart like Jesus’, that I would have stopped in my tracks and behaved with grace and mercy, kindness and rationality. But no, sadly, I hate to admit, that I don’t always hear Him telling me to just be quiet. I love that you pointed out Luke 6:45. You’ve shown it to me in a new light. Although its been a long while since I’ve behaved so badly, thankfully, I pray that I can always run that verse through my head before I speak. Especially in situations where I feel my blood pressure rise. And honestly, I think that my heart IS overflowing with good, with blessings, and with joy. I just want that to show all the time, and I think God wants that from me as well.

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