A Little Bird Am I


Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with my all-time favorite poem.

And there’s a story behind it, as well. Because sometimes the confinements can feel so claustrophobic. I know I feel that way when I am lying down in bed; as a quadriplegic, I cannot lift my head off the pillow or sit myself up right. And at times, it feels so suffocating. It’s like, I feel like I can hardly breathe. I can’t move; I can’t get up; I can’t raise my head.  It’s like someone has fastened my neck, arms and legs to the bed. It can be such a frightening feeling, but whenever it happens — whenever the confinements of my quadriplegia close in on me — I like to sing. I fill my lungs with air and belt out a praise song or a hymn. Like, “Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew; that I might love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.” And I tell you what: anything, anything to chase away the claustrophobia — and songs of praise always do it. Worship songs chase away the cloud of claustrophobia and I no longer feel confined.

Many years ago I read a poem which perfectly describes how God uses his songs of praise to shatter things that confine us. It is a poem written by Mme. Guyon; she was a French noblewoman who was thrown into prison on trumped up charges by jealous church officials. She stayed in that dungeon for ten years; but she wrote some of the most beautiful poems during her confinement. And this one is my favorite. Mme. Guyon writes:

A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.

Naught have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song: 
He caught and he bound my wandering wing,
But still He bends to hear me sing. 

My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty;
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.

Oh!  It is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love;
And in His mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom, of the mind.

Isn’t that beautiful? I so identify with Mme. Guyon; her bolts and bars may have been a prison, but my bolts and bars are my wheelchair. And like her, I have found the best way to chase off feelings of confinement is to sing to God. To help me remember this poem, I wear a little necklace; it’s a tiny birdcage with a little bird (not on the inside of the cage, but on the outside). It is so charming and, as I said, whenever I wear it, I not only find myself singing like that bird, I find myself quoting throughout the day Mme. Guyon’s lovely poem.

I would love for you to have your own copy of this poem called “A Little Bird Am I,” so please visit my radio page at joniandfriends.org where you can download your own copy. Again, just go to joniandfriends.org and click on my radio page — not only will you see Mme. Guyon’s poem, you’ll also see a photo I have posted of my birdcage necklace. And one more thing: If you are feeling confined or claustrophobic from your life circumstances, remember not only this poem I shared, but remember Psalm 32, verse 7, “[God], You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” And, what do you know, He does just that! 

 This article may have been floating around for a while.  The exact article and download are not on her site, nor is the picture which is referred to.  I found the image online. 

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