Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Glurge: Child badly injured in an accident is comforted by "birdies," his description of angels.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Origins: One of the recurring themes in the genre of glurge is the belief that by virtue of their innocence, young children can both see and communicate with God, Jesus, angels, and the protective ghosts of deceased family members. In one such offering, "The Smell of Rain," a fragile infant who miraculously survives her poor start in life grows into a little tyke who guilelessly reports rain "smells like God when you lay your head on His chest." In another, "The Little Girl," a child who witnesses her father murder her mother and then turn the gun on himself is years later shown a picture of Jesus, prompting her to exclaim "That's the man who was holding me the night my parents
This account of a toddler horribly injured in a garage door accident who is comforted by angels during his time of travail employs the theme of the rescued child who afterwards makes a startling pronouncement about interaction with heavenly entities, yet it differs from the two previously mentioned in a key way. The girl who says God smells like rain and the one who says Jesus cradled her in safety mention these things in offhand fashion, seemingly unaware they've been part of something miraculous or that others don't routinely have similar experiences during the ordinary course of things. But the boy in the birdies story knows the import of what he's attempting to communicate, even if he lacks the vocabulary to adequately describe what he saw — with great deliberation, he seeks out his mother for the express purpose of telling her about the events he was part of.
In the version most commonly circulated on the Internet (which is the one quoted in the Example section above), the story is presented as a tale of angelic intervention during a time of crisis, with the "birdies" appearing solely to provide succor to a child on the brink of death. But, in its much longer original version, the intercessors have another motive: they have come to show the child that other "birdies" — unredeemed souls — languish in cages in the heavens, awaiting the specific acts of mortals that will release them. The child is not merely the recipient of a miracle; he is charged with spreading a message about the caged "birdies" and persuading others to perform the temple ordinances necessary to set the trapped beings free.
What now circulates in shortened form as "A Dad's Story" was originally named "Free the Birdies," a title that aptly described the thrust of the unabridged account. It was penned in 1994 by Lloyd Glenn, a Mormon then living in Mission Viejo, California, about the accident that befell his son Brian on
FREE THE BIRDIESThe story now circulating has been altered to fit a more traditional Christian view in that all mentions of the caged "birdies" and the need to perform LDS
The words of Lloyd Glenn
I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak today regarding the topic assigned to me, the importance of Temple attendance. Brothers and Sisters, throughout our lives we are blessed with spiritual experiences, some of which are very sacred and confidential, and others, although just as sacred, are meant to be shared.
Last summer my family had a spiritual experience that has had a lasting and profound impact on us, one we feel must be shared. It's a message of love. It's a message of regaining perspective, and restoring proper balance and renewing priorities.
In humility, I pray that I might, in relating this story, give you a gift my little son, Brian, gave our family one warm summer day last year.
On July 22nd I was en route to Washington, D.C. for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for
When I got off the plane a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said,
My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to a distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for the Mission Hospital. My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had been trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him, he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued that treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, nor to his heart. They explained that the door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed.
After speaking with the medical staff, my wife informed me that our Bishop and hometeacher were there and were waiting for the doctors to give them the go ahead to administer to Brian. She sounded worried, but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness.
The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream.
I was filled in on all the details and given the guarded prognosis. Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was okay - two miracles, in and of themselves. But, only time would tell if his brain received any damage.
Throughout these seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She told me that the Bishop had given a blessing so powerful and so reassuring that she felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline.
All that night and all the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally, at two o'clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, 'Daddy, hold me,' as he reached for me with his little tiny arms.
By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine our gratitude and joy. As we took Brian home we felt the unique reverence for life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely. In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family. Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be much more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.
Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, 'Sit down, Mommy. I have something to tell you.' At that time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to say such a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down with him on the bed and he began this sacred and remarkable story.
'Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn't hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the 'birdies' came.'
'The 'birdies'?' my wife asked puzzled. 'Yes,' he replied. 'The 'birdies' made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me.' 'They did?' she asked. 'Yes,' he said. 'One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door.'
A sweet and reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that a three-year-old has no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to help him from beyond the veil as 'birdies' because they were up in the air like birds that fly.
'What did the 'birdies' look like?' she asked. Brian answered, 'They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had on green and white, but some of them had on just white.' My wife thought this was intriguing because Brian had no clue what the color green was.
'Did they say anything?' 'Yes,' he answered. 'They told me the baby would be all right.' 'The baby?' my wife asked, confused. And Brian answered, 'Yes, the baby laying on the garage floor.' He went on, 'You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave.'
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian's body, and seeing his crushed chest and unrecognizable features, and knowing he was already dead, she looked up around her and whispered, 'Don't leave us, Brian; please stay if you can.'
As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that his spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form. 'Then what happened?' she asked.
'We went on a trip,' he said, 'far, far away.' He grew agitated trying to say things he didn't seem to have words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was so difficult. Finally, his eyes alighted on the picture of the Oakland temple that hangs in the room and he ran to it. 'I went there!' he shouted. 'There, Mommy,' he pointed to the temple. 'And I went to other ones like this. There are lots of them. They are everywhere, and I went to some of them with the 'birdies'. We flew so fast up in the air.'
To which my wife said, 'That's one of the temples.' 'YES! YES!' he shouted. 'I went to the temples.'
'They're so pretty, Mommy,' he added. 'And there are lots and lots of 'birdies' in the temple. Lots of them are in cages and they want to get out, but they can't by themselves. They need us to let them out of the cages. Mommy, I have to go to the temple and let them out. They are so sad and they need me to let them out. Mommy, you have to go there now and let them out. And Daddy too. And everyone. We have to let them out of their cages.'
My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet spirit enveloped her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known. She thought of the spirit world, the spirit prison to those who have not had saving ordinances done, and she knew that such spirits were relying on us to do these ordinances for them. She thought of how Brian had said some of the 'birdies' were wearing green and white, and the significance of that swept her with longing and understanding.
Brian went on to tell her that the 'birdies' told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the temples and the 'birdies' in their cages. He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck, a little fire truck, and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and he tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn't hear him. He said the 'birdies' told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said it was so pretty there and so peaceful, and he didn't want to come back.
And then the bright light came. He said the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light very much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him and told him, 'I love you, but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, tell everyone about the temples, and slay the alligators.' Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye. Brian got in the ambulance with two of the 'birdies'. The ambulance doors closed after the people got in, and he said, 'Then I saw my beautiful, beautiful 'birdies' waving
The story went on for over an hour. He taught us that the 'birdies' are always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes, and we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. But, they are there, and you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us do what's right because they love us so much. Brian continued, stating, 'I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We all must live our plan and keep our promises. And the 'birdies' help us do that 'cause they love us so, so much.'
In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all, or part it again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few time he added further bits of information that clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he spoke of his 'birdies.'
Everywhere he went, he told total strangers that they had to go to the temple. Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled.
Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray that we never will be. My wife and I have gone to the temple repeatedly since then, and always Brian is waiting to hear how many 'birdies' we set free each time we go.
Brothers and Sisters, of all the messages Brian could have brought back, he brought this one — We must go to the temple and free the 'birdies.' I testify that the things I have shared with you today are true. They are of sacred worth. They are of eternal consequence to us all and to the spirits who await the work only we can do for them.
May we all go to the temple and free the 'birdies' — for this truly is the Lord's work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I leave you with this message in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Salvation and baptism for the dead are tenets of the LDS faith. Those who follow that religion do not believe life begins with birth or ends with death, thus the spiritual reclamation of those who have already departed the mortal world is integral to that faith. Devout Mormons research their forebears for the purpose of redeeming the souls of relatives currently suspended in limbo thanks to their not having been admitted to the Church during their lifetimes.
A non-Mormon reading the shortened form of "The Birdies" story would conclude the beings the grievously injured child interacted with were angels. But a Mormon reading the full version would recognize them as the spirits of those as yet unborn or already departed.
Barbara "angel in dis skies" Mikkelson
Last updated: 11 June 2003
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