“If Birds Can Sing …”


The righteous shall … come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy (D&C 45:71).

Nine-year-old Amber Donohue didn’t want to get out of bed. I have four good reasons not to, she reasoned, and only one reason why I should: It’s Sunday and church starts in an hour.

She thought hard about why she shouldn’t: In the first place, I’m too tired. It isn’t fair that bears can sleep all winter but people can sleep only at night. In the second place, it’s too cold to get up. Judging from the way the snow was piled on the limbs of the maple tree outside her bedroom window, Amber was sure that it had snowed all night. In the third place, she thought, if I get up now, I’ll be cross with everybody for having to get up. It wouldn’t be fair to others. And in the fourth place, … Amber couldn’t think of a fourth reason yet, but she was sure that if she stayed in bed long enough, she’d think of something!

Amber knew, though, that her one reason for getting up was more important than all the ones for staying in bed put together. It was Heavenly Father’s day, and she knew that He wanted her to be in Primary. She also knew deep down in her heart that she wanted to be there too. She glumly crawled out from under her covers and sat on the edge of her bed. “What are you staring at?” she snapped at her pet white rat, Cuddles, that sat looking at her from its cage in the corner. “You don’t have to get up!”

Amber’s five-year-old brother, Arnie, knocked, then skipped into her room, his shoes untied.

“What do you want?” she snarled at him.

“I want to get out of here,” Arnie said, deciding not to ask her for a favor, after all. He hurried down the hall back to his own room.

As Amber slowly got her Sunday shoes from her closet, she heard her mother’s voice calling from the kitchen. “Breakfast is ready, everyone. We have to hurry, or we’ll be late for church.” Then she added, “Don’t forget to wear your warmest coats and put on your best singing voices.”

“I’ll wear my warmest coat, that’s for sure,” Amber grumbled, “but nobody can make me sing! I don’t feel like singing any more than I feel like getting out of bed!”

Suddenly Amber heard singing outside her window. It was a bird on the tree limb. Amber stared at it with surprise. “It’s gray and windy and cold out there,” she muttered. “Why is that bird singing such a happy song?”

“Maybe it’s counting its blessings,” came a small voice from behind her. Amber turned and saw Arnie standing a safe distance from her, his shoes still untied. “Mommy says that whenever she’s sad or just wants to feel better, she either counts her blessings or sings a song. Especially about Jesus. Like we do in Primary. And sacrament meeting. She says that she sings when she’s happy too.” Then Arnie added, “Heavenly Father likes singing. A lot. Otherwise why would He put so many birds in the world?” As Arnie turned and started to leave the room, he said, “Maybe you should sing a song, Amber. Maybe you should sing lots of them.”

Alone again in her room, Amber looked at herself in her dresser mirror. The first song that came to her mind was the one about no one liking a frowny face. She looked at the bird in the tree outside her window again. It was still singing. It’s happy, Amber thought. Maybe it’s counting its blessings and praising Heavenly Father too. If birds can sing on gloomy days, she thought as she started toward the kitchen, why can’t I?

Amber was ready for church on time. Well, almost on time. She stopped halfway through brushing her hair just long enough to help Arnie tie his shoelaces. And she sang every Primary song that she could think of all the way to church.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown