Thank you for inviting me to your birthday party! Your house is a thousand miles from mine
and I travel only for the best of reasons. A party for Rae is the best and I am eager to be with
I began my journey in the heart of the hummingbird you and I met long ago. He was friendly
as ever, yet when I told him that little Rae was growing up and that I was going to her
birthday party with a present, he was puzzled.
We flew for a long while in silence and at last he said, "I understand very little of what you
say, but least of all do I understand that you are going to the party."
"Of course I am going to the party," I said. "What is so hard to understand about that?"
He was quiet, and when we arrived at the owl's home, he said, "Can miles truly separate us
from friends? If you want to be with Rae, aren't you already there?"
"Little Rae is growing up and I'm going to her birthday party with a present," I said to the owl.
It felt strange to say going like that, after talking to Hummingbird, but I said it that way so
Owl would understand.
He, too, flew in silence for a long time. It was a friendly silence, but as he delivered me safely
to the home of the eagle, he said, "I understand very little of what you say, but least of all do I
understand that you call your friend little."
"Of course she is little," I said, "because she is not grown up. What is so hard to understand
Owl looked at me with his deep amber eyes, smiled and said, "Think about that."
"Little Rae is growing up and I am going to her birthday party with a present," I said to Eagle.
It felt strange now to say going and little after talking with Hummingbird and Owl, but I said
it that way so Eagle would understand. We flew together over the mountains, and soared the
At last she said, "I understand very little of what you say, but least of all do I understand this
"Of course birthday," I said. "We are going to celebrate the hour that Rae began, and before
which she was not. What is so hard to understand about that?"
Eagle curved her wings into steep dive-flaps and stepped to a smooth landing on the desert
sand. "A time before Rae's life began? Don't you think rather that it is Rae's life that began
before time ever was?"
"Little Rae is growing up and I am going to her birthday party with a present," I said to Hawk.
It felt strange to say going and little and birthday after talking with Hummingbird and Owl
and Eagle, but I said it that way so Hawk would understand.
The desert poured by far below us and at last she said, "You know, I understand very little of
what you say, but least of all do I understand growing up."
"Of course growing up," I said. "Rae is closer to being an adult, one more year away from
being a child. What is so hard to understand about that?"
Hawk landed at last upon a lonely beach. "One more year from being a child? That does not
sound like growing!" And she lifted into the air and was gone.
Seagull, I knew, was very wise. As I flew with him I thought very carefully and chose words
so that when I spoke he would know I had been learning.
"Seagull," I said at last, "why do you fly me to see Rae when you know in truth I am already
Seagull turned down over the sea, over the hills, over the streets, and landed gently upon your
"Because the important thing," he said, "is for you to know the truth. Until you know it, until
you truly understand it, you can show it only in smaller ways, and with outside help, from
machines and people and birds. But remember," he said, "that not being known doesn't stop
the truth from being true." And he was gone.
Now it's time to open your present. Gifts of tin and glass wear out in a day and are gone. But I
have a better gift for you. It is a ring for you to wear. It sparkles with a special light and
cannot be taken away by anyone, it cannot be destroyed. You are the only one in all the world
who can see the ring that I give you today, as I was the only one who could see it when it was
Your ring gives you new power. Wearing it, you can lift yourself into the wings of all the
birds that fly.
You can see through their golden eyes, you can touch the wind that sweeps through their
velvet feathers, you can know the joy of going way up high above the world and all its cares.
You can stay as long as you want in the sky, past the night, through sunrise, and when you
feel like coming down again, your questions will have answers and your worries will have
As anything that cannot be touched with the hand or seen with the eyes, your gift grows more
powerful as you use it.
At first you might use it only when you are outdoors, watching the birds with whom you fly.
But later on, if you use it well, it will work with birds you cannot see, and last of all you will
find that you'll need neither ring nor bird to fly alone above the quiet of the clouds.
And when that day comes, you must give your gift to someone you know who will use it well,
who can learn that the only things that matter are those made of truth and joy, and not of tin
Rae, this is the last day-a-year, special-time celebration that I shall be with you, learning what
I have learned from our friends the birds.
I cannot go to be with you because I am already there.
You are not little because you are already grown, playing among your lifetimes as do we all,
for the fun of living.
You have no birthday because you have always lived, you were never born, and never will
you die. You are not the child of the people you call mother and father, but their fellow-
adventurer on a bright journey to understand the things that are.
Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness, and so it is with this ring.