Many years ago my parents started giving everyone in the family a book on Christmas Eve. Each year they pick out a book that has touched them in some way and they write a special message in the front cover. Each one they have chosen has been unique and beautiful, and each message they have written has been heartfelt and love-filled. I treasure these books and their messages because they give me insight into my parents’ own hearts and values. They show me what is important to them, and what they hope becomes important to all of us.

This year they chose The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund and Feridun Oral.

It begins with an old owl telling a gathering of birds the story of Jesus’ birth. He tells how the birds in the rafters of the stable heard a song of peace in Jesus’s cooing, and then carried that song with them throughout the world. After old owl finishes his story, the birds wonder why the song isn’t sung anymore. Together they decide to whisper the song to every child near and far, and carry the message of peace to all. The book ends with children of all colors coming together to hold hands and share the message of the birds. The illustrations are stunning, and the simple text conveys a powerful message – Let there be peace on earth.

This book seems especially important given what is happening in the world today. Messages of fear, anger, and division often dominate our newsfeed and it’s easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed. But if you look carefully, and listen intently, the message of the birds is still there. The message of peace is present whenever a stranger is welcomed and a child is fed. It’s present in those who stand up for the vulnerable and weak, and in those who fight for justice despite what it may cost them.

I’m thankful my parents chose to share this book with us as reminder that we can all be messengers of peace. I encourage each of you to think about ways you too can share that message with the world.

As our first act as messengers of peace, my children and I decided to thank our bird friends by decorating our discarded Christmas tree with pinecone bird feeders. It was a great idea until our dog decided to eat one and barfed all over the living room carpet. I think from now on we will choose a different way to share the message of peace with our woodland neighbors. Thankfully, there are many ways to be neighborly, and not just with the birds.


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