© November 24th, 2002
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Once upon a time, in a place only children-at-heart know, (where every child goes) in the year of very bright sunlight, a strange thing happened.
It was in the Kingdom of InyÖurrÖÖm, in the palace of King Immë, that a yellow songbird, which had never been seen there before, alighted on the polished marble floor and began to sing a lovely melody in the midst of the king’s weekly meeting of the heads of state.
It sang so loud and so melodiously that everyone forgot what they were talking about. They all found themselves soothed and peaceful by its melody. The King loved the little bird immediately.
“Hurry!” Demanded King Immë. “Catch this wonderful warbler and put it in a cage of gilded gold wire, that befits a kings palace, so that I may always hear its beautiful melody!”
King Immë’s court’s men did as the king commanded. So then, for many days the king basked in the songbird’s melody. But one day, the king saw his very large cat clawing at the bird’s frail golden wire cage, and fearing that the cat would break through the wire and eat his wonderful songbird, the king ordered his court’s men to protect it with a sturdier cage by placing a new cage around the first one, which would keep the cat at bay.
The court’s men forged a nice and decorative outer cage of thin but strong forged iron and placed this over the gilded golden wire cage. But the ornamental flowers of that cage, as beautiful as it was, blocked the songbird’s view of the rising sun, which had always made him so happy. Because he didn’t see the sun until very late in the morning, his song wasn’t heard until the sun was high above the iron flower on the songbird’s protective cage.
King Immë at first felt distressed that the bird didn’t sing early in the day, but then his distress was abated as the melody of the birds song began to flow again. Each day the song started later and later but no one knew why.
Late in the fall of that year, King Immë saw his children’s big Saint Bernard dog chasing the cat playfully near the bird’s cage. He bumped against the big, decorative iron cage protecting the gilded wire cage, and that moved both cages out of place.
“That iron cage protects my songbird from the cat, but it isn’t strong enough to protect it from the dog. So, make the songbird another protective cage heavy enough that the dog can’t knock it over!” He told his court’s men.
This time, they put big, wide, forged steel bars all around, over the light iron cage that kept the cat at bay from the gilded golden wire cage that protected the songbird.
The three sets of bars completely blocked all the direct sunlight that made the songbird happy and he sat there silently all day long.
This upset King Immë very much, so that he couldn’t even find the peace he’d had before the songbird came to his palace.
“Why isn’t the bird singing?” He asked his court’s men.
“We don’t know, Sire!”
“Find me a wise man or woman, boy or girl who can tell me why this songbird does not sing! I will make such a wise man rich!”
Then, the court’s men sent a town crier throughout the kingdom with the King’s promise to make the man, woman, boy or girl rich who could make the bird sing again.
Many people of all ages and all walks of life came to try to determine the cause of the melancholy melody-maker, but no one knew the bird’s heart.
Long after everyone had left the King alone with his now songless bird, a court’s man came to the King’s dayroom with a ragged, tattered man in shakles.
“Sire, this man thinks he can make your bird sing!” The attendant laughed to the king. “Maybe this jail-bird really knows the bird’s heart!”
“Let him speak! I’ll try anything to hear that melody again! He certainly can’t do worse than the ‘wise men’ around here!”
So they brought the prisoner near to the bird’s many cages. He saw the layers of bars that held the beautiful little bird captive, and he remembered how long it had been since he had seen the light of day or smelled the freshness of flowers in bloom in the meadows... He felt the bird’s sorrow of heart within himself.
“My Lord, if you will but remove the bars of all the cages which you meant to protect the songbird, your bird will sing once more. For birds were meant to fly on the freedom of the air and without it, just as men, their natural joy ceases. Therefore, they have no song.”
This made sense to King Immë and he ordered the bars to be removed, and crystal put into all the openings of the palace, instead, and that set the bird free within the palace.
Once the bird sat the sun that streamed into the windows his joy returned and he began to sing his happy melody. King Immë was so pleased he decided to free the man as well as make him rich.
“What can I do to thank you?” King Immë asked the ragged man.
“Sire, put windows in each cell of the dungeon, that no man be deprived of light.”
“That’s all you want for a reward?” King Immë asked, astounded.
“Yes, Sire. That’s what I want! The dungeon’s darkness took my freedom and my family left me while I was there, and my heart’s song left me, too.”
“Well,” King Immë pondered, “Why were you put there in the first place?”
“I drank too much wine at a wedding of a friend, and sang my songs too loud for his neighbors, and so I was arrested, and then I was forgotten. Like this songbird, I stopped at the wrong place and did the wrong thing in my joy, and my reward was bars that took away the light of my life and my joy.”
Then the king knew in his heart that things were not completely right in his kingdom. He looked at the tattered man and knew he was in the presence of a truly wise man, one who was wise enough to make even the birds sing!
“It is time for a complete refreshing in my Kingdom, sir. Will you stay and lend us your wisdom as my advisor, and help bring about this refreshing?”
“I will, Sire, as long as there are no bars on my windows.”
So, the wise man whose common sense proved it really wasn’t so common after all, became King Immë’s advisor and after installing crystal windows in all the buildings in all the kingdom, this man imported many songbirds that made the whole kingdom a peaceful place. His wisdom was so sought after by all the people that he was never lonely again, in the Kingdom of InyÖurrÖÖm.
And we still use his glass idea in our windows.
Ordinary people change the world every day because they learned to use knowledge wisely. What will you change?
Please feel free to share this with the children in your life.