"All the great mystical traditions love birds and their singing. Solomon understood what the different bird species were saying. That's why they loved to stay close around him. Jesus, playing as a child, made clay birds on the sabbath, and when scolded, shooed them into flight, his first miracle. Taoist grave carvings sometimes show one master handing a bird to another master, or a wonderfully strange procession of birds and bird-people strutting in high spirits into the next reality. St. Francis was so empty of nervous haste and fear and aggression that the birds would light on him.

"Birds represent our longings for purity and freedom, and they carry messages of ineffable joy. They mediate between above and below. Some of them begin at dawn to celebrate the returning light. And some with their songs in the middle of the night deepen our silence."