224. There is a bird that God has blessed, she wears this honor on her chest… ~Rick Fernandez, Sr.

When father takes his spade to dig
then the Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.

Or, if the trees are rather far
He does not stay alone,
But comes up close to where we are
And bobs upon a stone.
~“The Robin” by Laurence Alma-Tadema

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Since the mid 19th century in the UK and in Ireland, the robin has been strongly associated with Christmas; its image has been used on Christmas cards and on postage stamps.  Legend has it, according to an old British folk tale, that when Jesus was dying on the cross, the Robin, then a simply brown bird, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort him in his pain. The blood from his wounds stained the Robin’s breast, and thereafter all Robins have borne the mark of Christ’s blood upon them.  More than likely however, the association with the robin and Christmas may have come from the fact that postmen in Victorian Britain wore red jackets and were nicknamed “Robins.”

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.  ~Hebrews 13:19-21  ✝

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake, English poet, painter and printmaker

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin

One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.  

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝