The Golden Bird and the Tree
A Fable of the Soul and the Ego
Once upon a
time a golden bird wandered the heavens in search for a place to sing. Seeing a tree that stood alone in the valley
of the mountains, she flew in for a closer look. The tree was young, a mere sapling, and since
it was winter, the sapling was sleeping, so it did not notice when the golden bird
alighted in its humble branches pleased to find a home.
As it slept,
the little tree dreamt, and in its dream, a golden bird descended and made its
home among its branches.
you choose me?” the tree asked the golden bird.
each other,” said the golden bird, “and together we will make a bridge between
heaven and earth.”
shimmered gently and continued sleeping, dreaming it was listening to some
mysterious and radiant singing.
In reality, while
the golden bird had been searching for an earthly place to call home, it had
intended that home to be temporary—a stop along its journey of singing its song
through time and space. However, the
golden bird decided to make its home among the branches of the tree because it
had, in fact, gotten one of its delicate feet stuck in a tight spot among the
branches, and couldn’t move. But since it
liked the tree and felt at home there, it decided it would do what it was born
to do: sing. And it would remain there
until it was no longer tangled with the tree.
bird sang a tree-song, a song of tree-energy, tree vibrations, tree leanings,
and it enjoyed very much how its voice was informed by the being of the
tree. Sure it had its own song, but its
song had no overtones or harmonies, it was just pure tones issuing from a most
exquisitely fragile voice. Now that it
was stuck in the tree, its singing made vibrations in the branches and these
vibrations created echoes, harmonies, and drones of endless variety and timber,
and so it kept singing this new and wonderful song, and felt it had discovered
sides of itself it never knew before.
bird grew to love that little sleeping tree.
It appreciated the shelter, the experience of form and boundaries. It loved the way the tree’s being made her
own song more resonant and deep. And it
decided it would do whatever it could to protect that little tree and help it
grow to reach its fullest height.
the tree slept. It slept and dreamt it
had a golden bird living in its branches and that they had fallen madly in love
with one another.
spring, the tree began to awaken, born into a blue sky dappled with clouds the
shapes of castles. As the tree grew more
and more awake, it began to enjoy being a tree very much. It reached and it stretched, it swayed and
it leaned. It grew green leaves and soft
blossoms and sent deeper and deeper roots rivering through the surrounding
it slept and it dreamt about the singing, and as it grew, it realized it could
do so many more things than when it was a seed or a sapling. It was delighted to discover it could cast
its seeds far into the world and that the world would accept them and nestle
them deep into her womb.
As it grew
even larger and its branches stretched even further, it could touch places even
further away. It began to want more
light, more space, more sky, and somehow when it dreamt, the song it heard
seemed to tell it that all of its wantings were good—holy, wonderful, meant to
be. So it wanted more and the
surrounding world gave it more, pouring down rain, sun, and soothing winds.
The tree, in
turn, gave oxygen to the world. It loved
making this mysterious force, loved how it became one with the wind and felt it
breathe into the sky and how all the creatures around the tree enlivened and
quickened with enthusiasm when new oxygen was produced.
One night, in
a quiet moment in the light of the moon, the tree was not quite asleep and not
quite awake when it heard singing—the same singing it had been hearing in its
dreams. The tree shimmered. The sound filled its branches with light. Every branch and budding leaf quivered with
joy. The tree listened and listened all
through the night. It stood there awake,
swaying to the song. And as the dawn
kissed the night sky and made it blush with the deep presence of its
honey-scented kiss, the tree suddenly realized a golden bird really did live in
its branches, and a shimmering thrill quivered through it from the tips of its
branches down to its gnarled roots.
bird sang its song of light and as it sang the tree decided its primary reason
for living was to protect that golden bird.
Little did it know that the golden bird had the same idea.
however, in the tree’s goodness and curiosity of heart, it became a harbor for
many types of chattering creatures, each competing for the best spot in the
tree. At first the tree didn’t mind all
the noise and activity, but after while all the hustle and bustle began to
distract the tree from its primary purpose, and what was worse, it couldn’t
hear the golden bird as well.
And as much
as the tree loved the golden bird and wanted it to stay forever, it knew it
must have a home somewhere else.
Perhaps, the tree thought, she had come from a faraway shore or perhaps she
came from another tree, a universal tree crowned with the heavens, one that
draped a canopy of verdant green over all things. Wherever it came from, it was determined to
not only find the golden bird’s home, but to help it return there.
whirled its branches in a wild frenzy, hoping to loosen the bird, but its efforts
had the opposite effect, and the golden bird’s leg only stuck faster in its
spot. The tree talked incessantly all
day and sometimes all night, creating all sorts of dramas and stories hoping to
help inspire the bird to think up an idea to help free itself. The tree wanted more and more space with
which to spread its branches further and further hoping if it did the growth
would open the stuck spot and loosen the leg of the golden bird.
the tree know that if it really had wanted to, the golden bird could have
lifted, leaving its leg behind only to sprout a new one as it flew away, but
the golden bird was so very moved by the tree’s devotion that it stayed. It stayed and it sang.
years the tree kept trying to free the bird, but still it could not. It went
mad for the trying and the failing. It
swooned into a stupor of depression so much so that it began to only focus on
the frenzies of its own talking, and of its own swirling wanting. It tried so hard to free that golden bird that
it forgot to listen to the her song. Over
time, it somehow managed, as strange as it seemed, to forget the golden bird
was there, even though it loved her dearly.
looking from a distance, it would appear the tree hated the golden bird, that
it was somehow an opposing force trying to harm the golden bird or at very
least drown out its song. In actuality,
the tree stood in deep devotion to that golden bird, and all of its activities,
as misguided as they appeared to be, were in service of the one who dwelled in
its branches. Its efforts were, in a
bird used the magic of its song to transform the efforts of the tree into the
very growth and expansion of the tree.
The tree grew and learned so many things as it sought to free the bird. It became a strong and deeply rooted tree,
one whose boughs became a favorite climbing place for the children of the
nearby village. And the golden bird
looked upon all of the tree’s efforts as those of a highly active and creative
child. She forgave its every forgetting
and knew that running through its trunk was the thickest blood of the deepest
summer afternoon the sky darkened. An
ominous shiver swept through the leaves of the tree, thunder roiled through the
valley like an invisible wave from an invisible sea. Within minutes a storm careened off the
surrounding mountains, echoing through the tree sending it spinning in place
like a top, and had it not been for its roots, it would have twisted out of the
ground and tumbled away.
In the midst
of the storm the tree suddenly heard and remembered the singing of the golden
bird, and it stood up as tall as it could reach, stretching and unfolding its
branches as high as they could go hoping to simply hoist that bird back into
heaven. The tree wept its leaves into
the wind as the rain pelted down. It
tried to heave itself upwards, lifting itself from the earth, but its roots
were attached too deeply in earth.
the storm raged. And still the bird
sang. And through the wind and rain, the
thunder and the cooling air, the tree loved that singing with such a love that
the world could not, and indeed would never fully understand. How could it be that such an unlikely pair
could create such a partnership of such breadth and such harmony.
time together they had done just as the golden bird told the tree they would in
its dream from long ago: they had created
a bridge between heaven and earth. The
golden bird wanted a place to settle and sing, and that she got. The tree wanted to grow and to delight in
the world, and that it got. And the
golden bird grew to love the tree, and the tree grew to love the golden bird
and they both desired to protect the other. However, only the golden bird knew
the truth of the inevitable.
And in the
distance, the golden bird saw the lightning.
She saw it splitting the sky and lighting up the village and the
valley. She tried to warn the tree, tell
it to look out and be careful, to bend out of the way, to stop reaching so
high, but she knew the tree was rooted to its own personal earth, and that
ultimately she could do nothing to save it.
So she did what the tree loved most: she sang.
She sang a song
of sky and of blossoming horizons. With
every note the golden bird draped shawls of light over the branches of the
tree. It garlanded the tree with
dazzling strings of musical fireflies that bobbed and danced in the storm
lashed branches. She sang hoping to
guide that tree safely through another season.
She sang even though she felt her foot loosening from the spot that had
held her there for so long. She sang as
the storm trampled through the sky and gathered directly over the tree.
before the lightning touched the tree with its terrible, sudden stroke, tearing
it asunder and blasting it to pieces, the tree knew the way to free the golden
bird. Instead of doing all of the things
it had been trying to do—all of those things that actually created tension and
more tightness within itself, it suddenly knew to pause, to breathe, and to be
still. And as it relaxed, a song began
to rise like a river up through its roots, and up through its entire
being. As the song rose, it gathered
earth and moisture, and these flowed into its song, giving it strength and
power. And when the song reached the
branch of the golden bird, it struck the bird with such joy, such sweet and
undying devotion that the bird wept, it wept into the sky with tears that
rained down upon the tree in a baptism of the most fierce and tender love. And their songs merged becoming one song,
rising and streaming into the heavens directly up through the lightning bolt
that struck the tree, and into the very heart of the Divine Itself, and together,
for a moment that held the entirety of eternity, that tree and that golden bird
sang, not as opposites on some mysterious, little known scale of misunderstood music,
but as one—one song of All Life, All Love, and of All Unending Joy.
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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog