I cannot fully describe my total experience while going through each of the pages of this extraordinary book “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello. It was an assigned reading by my Spirituality professor in graduate school some years back. And this reflection was a requirement of that course, so here goes.
When I set out to read, I tried to put myself into a proper frame of mind. I created a mood in order to get a feel for what the author says: “the mystical.”
I knew being mystical was more than just feelings. So I seriously followed the third suggestion of how to read the stories – in a prayerful manner.
Most of all, I tried to open my mind, heart and spirit for the grace of wisdom I would hopefully gain.
Story after story, I went and slowly some things would strike me now and then but only superficially, I felt.
Later I discovered I must not predispose myself in a way too expectant nor too presumptuous, for what I found most enlightening were those that I read in a humble way.
Like what most of the stories have to say, we must not be too engrossed with the future. Neither should we be buried in the past because we must live in the present. We must become aware of what the present has for us.
If we do so, sooner or later the beauty of the moment unfolds before us to savor, to experience, to have. Then we cannot just analyze nor rationalize. We just have to let each moment be. And let us be still in the moment. Be in the silence of the present.
Like the fish who keeps looking for the big ocean, I learned I must keep still. I must listen to the silence of myself and to the lessons that were being imparted to me here, little by little.
I should only let my heart be open and let my mind be still. I should stop walking ahead, wandering around because I couldn’t just force wisdom into my heart — just because that was what I intended to find.
I also learned that this is how we usually go through life. We race ahead to the directions or goals we have set for ourselves, as if the future is all there is to life.
What also strikes me about the book is the varied sources of inspiration drawn from different religions. That they all speak of searching for the Truth, of being one with Creation. Most of all, these stories speak of finding God in our everyday lives.
Indeed – we are of different faiths, of different races. But we all have the same stories to share, the same longings for our same God, the same aspirations and ideals. We all can learn from one another.
I was most struck by one story here, “Change the world by changing me.” I believe that this is one powerful prayer that can really ‘move mountains’ — if only we are humble enough to first transform ourselves and ask God to help us.
Because I was definitely changed somehow by most of the stories, I decided to share the book with my youngest son and asked him to write his reflection. May I then take the liberty to share with you what he wrote verbatim:
Reading this book has made me strengthen my faith in God. I am grateful that as I was reading, a lot of questions stirred inside my heart, meaning I am not contented with my spiritual life because being contented means that I already know everything there is to know about God which I think is an impossible feat.
My questions led me to the fact that I was created in His image, a little lower than the heavenly beings which makes me greater than all things here on Earth but that God is infinitely higher so there is a vast difference between us. He knows all the answers to my questions but He may not reveal those to me since He said that there are things that are hidden and are for Him alone. And it is a good thing because His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. So seeking answers that are not meant for me may be dangerous to do.
And to those questions that are answered, I will keep always in my heart knowing that those will help me experience God better. Also, it will help me lead more souls to Him. I am always looking forward to questions to pop in my mind because each question answered will help me become a more mature Christian.
I intend to read this book again and again, for each time, new insights are revealed.
NOTE: I’m reposting this piece of mine — which I first posted here in 2013 because this book offers timeless gems of wisdom. And it’s a timely read as well. If you can get hold of a copy of this great resource, I invite you to do so. But read each story as mentioned above — in a prayerful manner to get the most of it.