A traditional irish tale
"Poor bird," exclaimed the boy. He picked up the small, ugly creature. Its ruffled gray feathers were torn and ragged. The cold, trembling bird snuggled close to the boy's rough tunic.
"I wonder where you slept last night. You are so cold," worried the boy.
"I tried to sleep in a gorse bush," replied the bird. "But the rain fell so hard. I was wet and freezing all night. But thank you for letting me warm up," said the bird. Then off he flew.
Early the next morning, the lad again cuddled the shivering gray bundle of feathers. Cuts and bruises covered the tiny body.
"Where did you sleep last night?" wondered the boy.
"I spent the night in a thorny bush. But the winds blew without stopping. The thorns scratched me all night as the winds blew the bush," answered the bird. "Thank you for your caring!" Off he flew.
"Oh, are you hurt very badly?" asked the boy on the third morning. He picked up his friend from the ground. The boy carefully placed the drenched bird next to his heart. The gray feathers stuck together like tar.
"Where did you stop last night?"
"I rode on top of a wave all night. I was cold and wet. My bones shivered," whispered the bird. "Thank you for drying and warming me." And off he flew.
"Where are you?" called the boy the next morning.
"Here I am," chirped the bird happily.
"Where? Are you hiding from this red bird in the tree? I will not let him harm you," called the boy.
"My friend, I AM the red bird," he said, and he flew strongly and gracefully to the boy.
"What? How? Where did you sleep last night?"
"Last night, I slept in a warm stack of hay in a manger. There was a man there with his wife. Their new-born son lay in the sweet-smelling hay. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. A cow, a donkey, and some sheep were laying around the manger.
When I arrived," continued the bird, "I could barely fly. The storms had blown me into trees and rocks. I was aching all over. The beautiful lady saw me and picked me up gently.
She smiled at her baby and laid me next to him in the hay. He touched me with one small finger and at once I felt different. There were no more aches. I felt warm inside and out.
Then I looked at myself. My feathers were no longer wet and broken. They were no longer ugly gray, but a bright, beautiful red. I didn't understand.
The lady smiled at me. She said her Son's love is like fire. As a sign of that, my feathers would be red from now on. I felt peaceful inside. Last night I rested well."