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THE MAN AND THE BIRDS
By Paul Harvey
Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas Story of the 
Man and the Birds.
 
You know, THE Christmas Story, the God born a man in a manger and all that escapes some 
moderns, mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions and this one 
is so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced I submit a 
modern parable.
 
Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, 
mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just 
didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It 
just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow 
the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.
 
"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this 
Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. 
That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that 
he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and 
they went to the midnight service.
 
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, 
snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch
the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then 
went back to his fireside chair and began to read his 
newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a 
thudding sound. Then another, and then another. 
Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought 
someone must be throwing snowballs against his 
living room window.
But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably 
in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried 
to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there 
and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would 
provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
 
Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He 
opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food 
would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled 
them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But 
to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in
the snow.
 
He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving 
his arms. Instead, the scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. And 
then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and 
terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. 
That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made 
tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just 
would not follow. They would not be led or 
shooed because they feared him. "If only I 
would not follow. They would not be led or 
shooed because they feared him. "If only I 
could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and 
mingle with them and speak their language. 
Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I 
could show them the way to safe, warm ... to 
the safe warm barn. But I would have to be 
one of them so they could see, and hear and 
understand."
 
At that moment the church bells began to ring. 
The sound reached his ears above the sounds 
of the wind. And he stood there listening to the 
bells - "Adeste Fidelis" - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he 
sank to his knees in the snow.