The Sparrow…a lenten reflection

Yesterday the world glittered in shades of purple and gold – a whirl of masks, music and brightly feathered crowns. Everything I wanted was within grasp, yet I wanted more. Today life is gray and I wear ashes on my forehead. Sinking into contemplation by the light of a dying fire, silent prayers conjure a waking dream.

I am lost and shivering beneath the ghostly branches of a sycamore when the sudden rustling of leaves startles me. Forgetting that snakes go underground in winter, my body recoils, and then relaxes when a tiny brown bird pops into view. The sparrow hops merrily through the shriveled leaves, foraging for grubs and dried berries. This perky little customer seems sure of finding what she needs in the dull, empty forest. Faith was once my instinct as well.

Seized with the notion this one-ounce creature can save me, I follow her up a steep ravine. She finds a resting place on the edge of a cliff, her body puffy and round in the cold air – a soft, feathered ball nestled in a swirl of dry leaves. I pounce, longing to feel her tiny heart beating in the palm of my hand, wanting to brush my dry lips against her soft wings. She escapes my greedy fingers.

A rush of regret fills my belly, sending me to my knees on the edge of the precipice where she takes flight. Forgive me, I whisper, letting go, if just for a moment, of all the wanting within me.


About Merrill Farnsworth

Merrill was declared a poet in 6th grade by Sister Mary McDonald and kept writing. In addition to being named an ASCAP songwriter of the year for her work with Michelle Tumes on the single, Heaven’s Heart, she has written lyrics for various artists, worked on animation projects for Sony Wonder and Columbia Pictures and written numerous stage, video and radio scripts. Her current project is a collection of stories and paintings titled Jezebel’s got the Blues…and other works of imagination (slated to be published in 2012). This work has been performed several times with an outstanding cast that includes performances by Chip Arnold, Bonnie Keen, Nan Gurley, Robert Kiefer, Jon Royal and features the blues guitar of Phil Madeira. She collaborated with Phil on his new project Mercyland, which features artists Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Shawn Mullins, The Civil Wars and others. She is also in the early stages of working with writer and actor Chip Arnold on a new musical. Along the way, Merrill has discovered the healing power of art in her own life and now integrates the arts into her work as a therapist. After earning a graduate degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University in 2000, She has created Writing Circles to help others discover the healing power within their own authentic voices. Merrill has worked as a therapist in corporate, clinical and educational settings. She currently has a private practice on 21st Avenue near Hillsboro village, where she works with groups and individuals. For more information contact her at or visit -- Merrill Farnsworth, LPC, MHSP Convent Place (formerly St. Bernard's Convent) 2021 21st Avenue South, 430 Nashville, TN 37212
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