Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Christmas Robin

I mentioned before my desire to have a stuffed (or at least a fake) robin on the Advent Wreath. Well, let me tell you, that it has opened the flood gates of discussion, questions and ideas as to why the robin is associated with Christmas.

Yes it is a pretty bird (by the way it is a rouge gorge in French), and the brown and red provide a nice counterpart to snow and Christmas logs, but there has to be more to it than that. Just look at Christmas Cards, and you will see the omnipresence of the robin.

There is the tradition that the robin was created brown and grey and God told it that it would remain that way until it earned its badge of courage. When the little bird, one day, saw a poor man being laughed at and derided, being dragged through the streets and spat at, being tormented and in so much pain, its heart was broken. So it flew to help the man, so afflicted, and though people shouted at it, and threw stones, and laughed and jeered, the little bird flew on. It saw that the man was covered in blood, and carrying a heavy cross. It could not help with that for it was too small, but it saw that there were cruel thorns sticking into the man's head, and so the little robin flapped its wings and tried with all its might to pull one out, and so to ease the suffering of this poor unfortunate man. He pulled and pulled, though being such a little bird, he could not pull it out. The man fell, and the poor bird was almost crushed. Soldiers shooed it away, kicking it and threatening it. But as soon as the man stumbled on his way, the brave little robin flew back, and tried again.


When he was growing as tired as the man, and had almost given up hope, the robin pulled again, this time with all his might, knowing that he only had the strength for one more attempt, but he could not allow the man to suffer alone. Though he could do so little, he was willing to risk his poor frail body so that the man's suffering could be eased just a little. And so he pulled. His beak was wrenched, his wings beating to exhaustion. And then, when he had almost given up, the thorn came from the poor man's brow.The robin tumbled down, spent, into the dust.

The man was being beaten again and nailed to the wood he had been carrying and the robin could feel the pain of the nails as they tore into the flesh of the man. But he was not imagining it, for the thorn that he had struggled to pull from the man's head had stuck in his own breast. The robin's blood seeped onto the brown and grey feathers of his breast. And the man's eye turned and looked at the little broken mite, and saw with what courage and compassion this little bird had come to him, when he was alone and suffering such agony. The bird's heart quickened, and the blood from his breast dried up and vanished, leaving only the badge of honour, love and courage.


On the wreath, the robin reminds us that at this time of rejoicing and celebration at the birth of this little child, this God made Man, we must remember that in his life there will be suffering, pain and death, for our sins. This baby will die for simple love of us.
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