Karen Weatphal – Parable of the Canary


On our tour, we were graced by a sister worker from Germany; Karen Weatphal is her name. She had a way and manner that captivated the listeners. The children sat in front of the platform in some conventions. The one in mind had about fifty. She started her message by speaking directly to the children by the following story.


“There once was a canary who sang a beautiful song. This was so because he lived in a beautiful cage. His master brought him fresh water to drink and bathe in every morning. On top of this, he was fed the finest food. His cage was placed by the window and had the best possible view. When the weather was pleasant, the window was opened and fresh, fragrant breezes refreshed him. On a certain sunny day, a stray sparrow flew up to the windowsill. He heard the song of the canary and then listened for a time. After a while he spoke and said, ‘Why are you singing so cheerfully, since you are such a poor bird?’ ‘What do you mean?’ demanded the singer. ‘You live a confined life,’ answered the sparrow. ‘Your world is so small and you have no freedom. Your cage is restricted and you can’t even try out your wings. Why, look at me for instance!’ and then the sparrow flew up to the top of the neighbor’s house. Looking down in scorn he added, ‘You surely are a poor bird.’ After such was said, he flew off without looking back. The canary watched him go and then looked at the bars on his cage. They wouldn’t move and he yearned to see a little more of the world around him. He started thinking more and more about his limited life. The more he thought, the sadder he became. Before long, he lost his song. His master brought him fresh, clean water to drink and to take a bath in the next morning, but the bright yellow canary paid no attention. Furthermore, he wouldn’t eat any of the delicious food prepared just for him. With the passing of time, his head hung down lower and lower and not one word was said. Days continued to pass and the once-happy bird became sadder and not better. He truly was a poor bird.


Then one bright morning, the sparrow reappeared as suddenly as he disappeared. He stopped and looked at the canary for a while. However, the yellow bird took no notice but continued to droop his shoulders and look sad. The sparrow finally broke the silence and said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ The canary would not answer. The sparrow now spoke with contempt and slurred, ‘You are even a poorer bird then I first thought.’ He was about to say something else to insult the canary, but instead at that very moment, a cat jumped up on the windowsill and caught the sparrow. He could only cry out for a moment but there was no one to help him. Then right before the canary’s eyes, the cat dined on the sparrow for lunch. When he was finished, the cat tried to get the canary also, but the bright, gold bars on his cage wouldn’t let him through. His master then heard the commotion and chased the cruel cat away. After everything settled down and peace was restored again, the canary began to consider what had happened! His cage protected him from his enemies and the sparrow had no protection. Furthermore, he was now dead. The canary had a master who cared for his welfare and was greater than his needs. The canary looked at the bars around him. He viewed the clean water to drink and bathe in and beheld the most delicious food for him to eat. After thinking a long time, he decided he wasn’t poor anymore but rather the richest and happiest of all birds. Understanding such a great truth, he raised his most beautiful, yellow head and began to sing the most beautiful song!”


Karen then looked down at the fifty pair of young wide-opened eyes looking up at her. Then she said, “Children, there will come a day when you will be a little older. You will look at the loving care of your parents in a different way than you think of it today. Your friends will say you are confined and restricted because of your mom and dad’s guidelines for your young lives. You will want to be as the sparrow and fly away as the sparrow…but remember this – every sparrow is caught by the devil. The devil will not be content until you are completely destroyed and your lives are ruined. You just try to remember when Satan says, ‘You are truly the poorest person in your school because you have no freedom, etc.,’ that he is a liar. You just keep obeying your parents and singing your song because you are the richest of all children because God is our Father and will bless us forever.”


When Karen was telling this story, I looked around the meeting tent and the ones who were writing the most earnestly were the doctors and professional men. Later on, I asked a number of them what they enjoyed the most in the afternoon meeting. “Oh,” they all said, “the story of the canary and the sparrow!” Here were educated, wise men who are honored and appreciated even by worldly standards, who now had become little children in the light of this simple story. They knew the story applied most of all to them and wanted to make sure not one word was missed. To me, this was one of the best pictures of God’s handiwork.