The Song of the Kingfisher
This is the story of a great kingfisher, The Kingfisher as he came to be called. The Kingfisher lived in a large and spacious nest far above all the other nests of kingfishers and finches and tiny sparrows that lived near the sea, for the Kingfisher had built its nest on a tiny ledge inside of the mighty walls of the castle overlooking the turbulent waters. All the other birds, great and small, looked up to the Kingfisher, and the Kingfisher looked after them all and spoke to them about all the things that were important to their life and how they should conduct their lives so near the sea during heavy and unpredictable storms that sometimes came.
One day, as the Kingfisher sat in his nest alone and waited for his hatchling to come to life, he lamented the loss of his mate, the Queenfisher, who had flown away and not come back again. The Kingfisher sat all day long and waited for his mate to return, but soon the Kingfisher realized that she would never return again. It was up to him to bring their tiny gift into this world alone, and though the Kingfisher was saddened, he never gave up hope that she would return again.
Sparrows and starlings and sometimes wrens and even hawks brought food to his nest and set it down reverentially before flying away, for they knew him, and they loved The Kingfisher. And so this continued for many days until, with a tiny crack, a new kingfisher was born.
Hatchlings were never given names in those days. It would not be until they had left the nest and returned again that they would be given a name. The Kingfisher looked down through the broken fragments of shell and saw that the new kingfisher was bright and colorful, and very beautiful.
“You do not have a name,” The Kingfisher said softly. “But one day, when you have flown and then returned, I shall give you one.” And then The Kingfisher flew away proudly to look for food to bring back so that he could feed the hatchling with the small minnows from the sea.
A new life was come, and soon all the other birds chirped and sang songs for the new kingfisher without a name. They flew close to the nest, but they never came too close, for it was unwise to frighten the hatchling, alone and nestled within the tiny twigs and warm feathers of the nest. And so the kingfisher learned to sing, and the loving and beautiful voice of his father was forever in his heart and in his mind. The Kingfisher spoke in song, and in this way the newborn kingfisher learned to speak and to sing, and the two became one voice.
After a short time The Kingfisher spoke to the hatchling very sweetly and very affectionately. “It is time for you to fly now,” said The Kingfisher. You must not be afraid, and you must be strong, for to hit the ground is to die. Do you understand?”
The hatchling did not understand, but somehow it already knew of this thing called death even though it was newly born and had never seen death before. And then, with a gentle push, The Kingfisher pushed the hatchling out of the nest.
Falling, falling faster, the wind whipped past the kingfisher and this feeling of motion was powerful and exciting. Faster, still faster, falling and falling it fell until suddenly it burst into a new world, bright and warm. The kingfisher opened its eyes and saw that it was soaring freely through the crystal clear sky, alive and free. Soaring and soaring, the kingfisher flew on powerful wings above the world and above all things. But now the kingfisher wanted to fly back to the nest so that it would have a name as was promised, because now it was just a kingfisher. But the poor kingfisher did not know how to get back to the nest, for it had flown so far.
And so the bright kingfisher flew back down to earth and landed on a stone ledge of a mighty seawall overlooking the sea. The wind blew through its hair but this time the kingfisher felt not the motion, and it was calm. The kingfisher listened, but it could hear no songs in the wind. Only the song of the wind could it hear and all the other creatures of the earth were silent on this first day.
But the kingfisher without a name still felt the joy of living, and soon it started to sing. Now soon after, the kingfisher heard the sound of a song carried on the wind, but it was not his own. The song was sweet, but it was the song of another bird, one which the kingfisher did not know. So thoughtful and so beautiful the song, and yet so strange and so peculiar was this song, that the kingfisher became frightened.
And then a beautiful sparrow lit on the seawall near kingfisher and continued to sing. The singing was sweet, and soon kingfisher was no longer afraid. The sparrow hopped along the seawall until it was next to kingfisher.
“I am Tuterian,” said the sparrow.
“I am a kingfisher, and I have no name,” kingfisher replied. “Can you tell me what place this is?”
“This is all places,” Teterian replied. “All things and all places are like one in this place. This place is called eternity. Have you never heard of it before?”
“I have never been here before,” kingfisher replied.
“You only come here once,” said Tuterian.
“I was only in my nest just a few moments ago.”
“You have died,” Tuterian said. “Do you not know?”
“I never knew that death could be so nice,” kingfisher replied. “But I would like to go back to my nest now so that I can be given a name.”
“That is the world of time,” Tuterian said sadly. “You cannot go back to the world of time, but you should rejoice in this new land, for it is without measure, and this is home to all things.”
“I cannot be content until I have a name,” kingfisher replied. “Can you give me a name?”
“I cannot give you a name,” said Tuterian, the sparrow. “It must be given to you, and I cannot do that.”
“But I cannot go home again,” kingfisher cried. “I have no way to go back.”
“There is always a way to go home again,” Tuterian replied, “and you will find it. A thousand mornings are like a single sunrise, and a thousand sunrises are like a single moment. A thousand miles are like a single flutter of your bright wings. Go now, and return to your home.”
The kingfisher flew away at once. On and on kingfisher traveled. On and on over many moons and many seasons, he rarely came down to earth again, for kingfisher never was hungry and he never needed to eat. Never having known a friend, kingfisher became lonely, but he understood not what loneliness was, he only wanted to be given his name so that he would know himself.
One day while kingfisher was singing a song to the sea he met a strange creature, a creature that he did not know. The creature walked upon the earth on two large legs. The creature had light and billowy hair on the top of its head and had no feathers, but instead wore dried layers of dried skin. The creature spoke beautifully, and its voice was young and cheerful.
“Hello kingfisher,” it said. “I am a boy, and my name is Ijon. What is your name?”
“I am a kingfisher, and I have no name.”
“Then I will call you kingfisher,” the boy answered.
“Are you alone like me?” kingfisher asked.
“I have been alone since the day I was run over by a carriage,” the boy answered.
“I am sorry for you,” kingfisher said. “Would you like to be my friend? I have traveled across the earth tirelessly looking for my home, but I have never had a friend.”
“I cannot fly,” said Ijon with sadness in his voice. “If we were friends you would have to come down to earth to visit me, and you would not be able to look for your home.”
“Then I must be going,” kingfisher said with remorse. “We could have been friends.”
“We are friends,” Ijon replied. “Remember me by my name and you will always know that I am your friend.”
“Goodbye, Ijon,” said the kingfisher, and for the first time in his life he knew what it was like to have a friend.
And so for many long years kingfisher traveled the world and made many new friends. His friendships were short, sometimes lasting only a single day, but it was enough to give him the courage to continue on and to not give up his quest to be given a name. One day kingfisher would return, and he would have a name, and they would remember him by his name.
But even in eternity time can sometimes find a way in if one is not careful to guard against it. Time cannot last long in eternity, so one need only turn away from it and count to three for it to be gone again. But kingfisher could not count to three, so kingfisher looked time right in the face and wondered what it was that could make him feel so sad. And then kingfisher knew that it was his father that he missed, and that somewhere his father would be looking for him and waiting for his return. With a mighty lift, kingfisher left the world of friends and the world of time, and he knew that he would never return to earth again until he found his home.
And so kingfisher looked down from great heights upon the earth. He flew and he flew until he had covered every place that there was, and then there was only one place left to search. He hesitated, lest he hearken forth an even greater sadness than he was able to bear. He saw it from a great height as he soared over a vast ocean. There in the middle was a tiny island. He did not remember this island. Circling overhead he could see a vast array of creatures, and there was much noise and much music. Through the din he heard a tiny fragment of a voice that came to his ear. The voice was small, but it was beautiful, and he knew that he should know this voice. He circled and circled over the tiny island until he was sure.
Out of the great cloud kingfisher came rushing down. Down, down further until he saw the mighty walls of a great castle. The voice he heard was like a great song. It was a song that he knew, for he knew it once. The kingfisher had returned home again.
The sweet singing nearly broke his heart as he landed softly inside the nest. Kingfisher was there and it was his singing that had brought him home. Kingfisher could not see him because he was now invisible, but he knew what he would do, and so the lost kingfisher sang the sweet song of his father into his ear with such tenderness that the startled Kingfisher stopped singing and listened. A few moments later it said.
“You have returned again my sweet kingfisher, and so I shall do as I promised. Your name is Sorrow, and you shall live forever in my memory.” And with that, the mighty Kingfisher proudly flew away from his nest and did not return ever again.