"Pi-pi-pi-pi-pi Ho-o ho-o kekyo!"
In the past few days Tetsu and I have been greeted by this bird call when we go for a walk in the mornings. This is the call of the Japanese nightingale and he always heralds the arrival of spring. The Japanese nightingale is a small bird and though I hear him when I am outside I rarely get a glimpse of him. Far off in the trees I think I can see a small brown bird and it is amazing how far and clearly the nightingale's voice carries over the fields and forests. Tetsu will sometimes whistle back and the nightingale will answer with a long warbling voice that ends in the familiar "Ho-o ho-o kekyo!" (picture from the Internet)
Do you know this story? It was always one of Leiya's favorites when she was a child and each spring when the nightingale's song could be heard, she'd ask me to repeat it.
One morning God sent out word to the birds in His world that He had planned something special for them and that they were all supposed to gather at a certain time and He would give them a present. Birds from all over the earth flew to God's side and He pulled out a huge box of paints.
"Today I am going to paint each of you and give you whatever colors you want. You are to go out in the world and brighten your place!"
The birds were very excited and started lining up in front of God and talking about what colors and feathers they wanted.
The cardinal declared that he wanted to be RED. As bright as possible! And God painted him in a brilliant vermilion.
The gentle swan gracefully came to God and said she wanted to be pure white so that the sun would reflect on her wings.
The peacock wanted each of his feathers painted in detail and it took God a long time to paint the sparkling designs on each long feather. The peacock strutted off proudly displaying God's amazing artwork.
The parrot was a bit of a joker anyway and he said he wanted every color that God had to be splashed on him. And then the toucan, not to be outdone, said that he wanted that strange looking beak at the bottom of the box and the brightest yellow available to spice up his shimmering black coat. The other birds giggled and thought the parrot and the toucan had overdone it but God smiled indulgently and the two birds chattered about who would be the brightest in the jungle.
The sweet little robin came up to God shyly and asked only for a soft red on her breast that she could look down at and admire alone.
All the birds got the colors of their choice and God spent a wonderful day painting and choosing the colors that were just right for each bird's personality. When evening drew near and all the birds were happily on their way home, God started to pack away His paintbox. It had been a busy day and all His wonderful paints had been used to their fullest.
But just then a small drab nightingale came fluttering in all in a panic.
"God! God! I just heard that You'd called all the birds together today! I live in the far off mountains and I didn't get the message! I have just come! God! Please paint me too!"
But God looked into His paintbox and then looked sadly at the nightingale.
"I'm so sorry. All the paints are gone... I used them all up and there is no color left for you my little nightingale."
The poor little nightingale looked so forlorn and so sad that God took another look in the box and at the far corner He noticed one tiny drop of gold.
"Little nightingale, open your beak wide and I think I can give you the best present of all."
So the nightingale opened her beak wide and God took one of His paintbrushes and placed the drop of gold at the back of the nightingale's throat.
The nightingale started to thank God and when she opened her mouth the most wonderful melody flowed forth! She could trill and warble and for miles around her golden voice could be heard over the hills and fields! All the other birds in the world were envious of the nightingale's beautiful song!
Although the nightingale stayed a brown little bird, God had given her the most beautiful voice in all the earth, and she spread her joy whenever she sang her thanks.