It was a typical winter morning for Memphis. December had been a month filled with days of extreme cold followed by days with highs in the low 70s; a kind a weather-mania which we Memphians have come to expect. Nothing new. I awoke at my usual ungodly pre-dawn hour hoping beyond hope that this would be one of those days that I could go back to sleep. Unfortunately, my thoughts didn’t take long to come into focus and deny me that option.
It was the Tuesday after the horrific massacre in Newton, Connecticut. Part of America’s most precious commodity, indeed part of our soul, had been taken from us in a senseless act of depravity. I, along with countless others throughout America and the world, had been shocked, shaken, and overwhelmingly saddened since learning of the irrational act that had occurred the previous Friday. Inured as Americans seem to have become to deeds of this nature, this time was devastatingly different. These were young and innocent children. We had heard over and over during the days that followed the phrase that “our hearts are broken.” And so they were.
I think I was surprised myself at how completely depressed and yes, heartbroken, I was personally at this vile act. I almost couldn’t get it out of my mind. I had gone to work the previous day at a school where I have worked for the past eleven years. Even though our own children weren’t there that day (winter break had begun for them), those of us who were there went about our business, often expressing outwardly the sorrow and shock we felt. I can remember the depression I felt as I sat at my computer and thought about those teachers and staff members in that school so far away in Connecticut. I wondered how they would possibly be able to go back to their routine activities when they did have to return to school. Nothing could ever be routine or normal for them again.
Those were my thoughts as I arose that Tuesday morning. Then something wonderful and incredible happened. I drug myself out of bed knowing that sleep had escaped me, went into the kitchen to get my first cup of coffee, and I heard birds singing outside of my kitchen window. Morning had come, the birds were singing, and life would go on. Life as we know it may have been changed, but the birds had announced a new day and a new beginning.
I cannot begin to explain to you how much the sound of those birds singing meant to me. The very fact that their singing was unseasonable and completely unexpected brought a sense of peace and joy to me. We had experienced a few days of what we call a 'cold snap' here in the south, but the birds knew that day would bring higher temperatures and had come out in force.
Very early mornings and the sound of birds singing have been a source of comfort to me throughout my entire life. After each personal heartbreak, including the overwhelming loss of my grandparents, my parents, and four years ago, my brother, I would always listen for the sound of birds in those first hours of the morning to reassure myself that the essence of life still prevailed. Sometimes I would have to wait for days and even weeks to hear that sound, but invariably when it did come, an enormous sense of consolation would come to me.
I’ve always associated that glorious sound with one of my favorite verses in the Bible, which is found in the book of Psalms, chapter 30, verse 5: “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (King James Version)
No matter what heartaches, trials, losses, or sorrows we may endure, birds will sing with the dawn of each new morning….and joy will come.
Amen and amen.