The Little Finch

An allegory about over-possessiveness in relationships

  There once was a young boy who wanted a bird for his birthday. Now the boy knew his father to be a wise and generous man and so he went to his father with his request. He told his father all about the bird he wanted. Not just any bird, mind you, for the boy knew exactly what kind of bird he wanted. He wanted a finch. But not just any finch – a zebra finch! The boy’s father smiled when he heard this but said nothing.
On the boy’s birthday the father suddenly appeared at the boy’s bedroom door with a beautiful zebra finch perched on his finger. The boy ran to his father joyfully and extended his own finger to the bird. The bird hopped onto his finger.
The boy however, was perplexed. “Father,” said the boy, “where is the birds cage?” “Oh my dear son,” said the father, “if you place this bird in a cage you will surely not have the bird you truly desired.”
But the boy was afraid the bird might fly away, so he went to the store and purchased a birdcage. When he came home he found that the bird did not want to go into the cage. It was a small frightening place with bars all around! But, the boy insisted on placing the bird in the cage and chased the bird with a net around and around the room until it was finally caught and placed in the cage!Now the boy had wanted the bird to be his friend and so he would open the door of the cage and place his hand inside hoping the bird would perch on his finger again. But the bird was terrified and flew fitfully back and forth whenever the boy would place his hand in the cage. The boy reflected on this for awhile and after some time had passed he determined that his father had certainly not given him the bird he had asked for.And the boy was angry with his father…

One day the father came to the boy’s room and saw his son sitting next to the cage with a frown on his face. The father said to the boy, “What is it that weighs so heavily upon your heart?” The boy jumped up pointing his finger at his father and said, “Why have you given this bird to me? This is not the bird I asked for as a gift!” His father replied, “Surely, this is the bird you asked for as a gift. But it is not the bird you truly desired! This bird has known you only as its captor, the warden of the prison you have placed it in. It has not had the opportunity to choose you as its friend, but instead, because you were afraid, you have tried to force your friendship with the bird entirely on your own terms.”
“But who knows” said the father, “perhaps if you open the door of the cage, the bird may yet fly out and choose to become the friend you truly desire.”

And the boy opened the cage…
Copyright © 2000 by R. Thomas Brass
All rights reserved.