The little girl lay in her bed under soft covers. As the light of dawn slowly filled the room, a small bird flitted onto a tree outside and began to chirp. In the barnyard, the rooster crowed loudly and Theresa stirred in her sleep.
Her brown eyes opened. Her first thought was: "Today is a special day. It is Someone's birthday - Someone important. It is Baha'u'llah's Birthday." Theresa jumped out of bed, eager for the day to start. Birthdays were one of her favorite things. There were always fun things to do - candle-lit cakes and parties and friends. How she did love it all!
She stood before her closet. Mother had said that she did not have kindergarten today because it was a Holy Day. So Theresa did not choose a schooldress to wear. After slipping into some play clothes, she went into the bathroom, where she brushed her teeth and hair until they shone.
Mother was cooking breakfast in the warm kitchen. She set a plate in front of Theresa, who drew in a deep breath of the sweet pancake smell. Mother kissed the top of her head and told her it was like kissing the ebony wings of a bird. It was very nice to think that her black hair matched the color of a bird's feathers. She liked birds. In fact, she felt close to all of God's animal creatures.
She asked, "Mama, are we going to Miss Margie's house for Baha'u'llah's birthday party?" "I'm afraid we won't be able to go today," Mother replied. "Our car's not working, so we'll have to stay home and celebrate the Blessed Beauty's Special Day in our own way. And that's rather nice, too, isn't it?"
Theresa did not think it was nice at all. Suddenly the syrupy pancakes did not taste as good as before. She put her fork down and stared out of the window. She could see the large field and the many trees along side of it. She liked living in the country a lot, but there were times when she wished she were back in town. She missed visiting with her friends on Tuesday afternoons while Mother and the other Baha'is had their meetings. But Mother had promised her that they would be able to go again in the summer.
She slid off her chair and went to the sink where her mother was washing the dishes. "What will we do for Baha'u'llah's Birthday?" she asked. Mother wiped the white soapsuds off her hands with a towel and bent down to give Theresa a big hug. "I know you are disappointed that we can't go to the party. I am, too. But we must make the best of it. I'll bake a cake and you can do something to celebrate too."
"But what, Mama?" Theresa looked at the floor. "Well, how about picking a giant-size bouquet of flowers and putting them on the dining room table?" Mother suggested.
"O.K." She pulled a green sweater over her head and skipped into the yard. There were lots and lots of trees and plants. Today was November 12, and not many of the bushes were blooming. Theresa finally found one in the corner that was covered with tiny blue blossoms. She picked as many as her small hands could hold and only dropped a few as she made her way back to the door.
Mother helped her fill the heavy vase with water from the kitchen faucet, but Theresa wanted to put the long-stemmed flowers into it, one by one. After she was finished, she went looking for Mother.
She found her in the bedroom, writing a letter. "Now what, Mama?" she inquired. "M-m-m ..., let's see. Why don't you make a card to place by the flowers?"
So Theresa took her construction paper and scissors and paste to the table. For a long time, she cut, drew, and pasted. At last she was satisfied, and she stood the piece of artwork beside the bouquet of flowers.
Mother came to look at the happy birthday card and said that it was the best one that she had ever seen! Then she returned to the kitchen, where she began to gather the ingredients for the cake.
Theresa sat at the table with her chin propped on her hands and looked deeply at the sky-blue flowers. The folded picture she had drawn was colorful, with its drawings of the land, fluffy clouds and happy children. Both gifts were beautiful and she was glad that she had done them to show her love for Baha'u'llah. But they were not her own ideas. Mother had helped her. Mother had thought of baking the cake, and she was doing it all by herself. Theresa wanted to do something of her own for Baha'u'llah. Whatever it would be, it should come from her own heart. She thought and thought. If only she had someone to share this day with - besides Mother, of course.
Suddenly her eyes sparkled and a smile tickled the corners of her mouth. She might not have someone to share with, but she did have some things! Out the back door she flew, forgetting her sweater. "Today is Baha'u'llah's Birthday," Theresa told Zorro, the black cat. Zorro was curled up on the picnic table, asleep in the rays of the sun. He lifted his head and answered, "Meow." Then he went back to his interrupted catnap.
"Happy Birthday to Baha'u'llah," whispered Theresa to the dog family in their pen. They lined up and licked her fingers through the fence ... first Bob, the father; then Lady, the mother, and her four puppies - Dot, Julie, Ringer, and Sam.
"Did you know that today is Baha'u'llah's Birthday?" she asked the goat in the pasture. Clyde just looked at Theresa and said nothing.
"We love You. We do. We love You. We do. We love You, dear Baha'u'llah. We love You. We do," she sang to the chickens who were busily searching for insects in the tall weeds.
She had shared her joy with her animal friends. Out of breath, Theresa sank down onto the cool brown grass beside the dog's wire fence. The dog family gathered on the other side of the enclosure to wag their tails happily. Theresa sat quietly and watched the cat jump lightly from the picnic table. Slowly, very slowly, he made his way over to her and eased onto her lap. Then the goat stopped his lunch of rose brambles and moved to Theresa's side. He gently nuzzled her shoulder to remind her to scratch his ears. She reached into the dog's pen and pulled a handful of the long grass blades that the chickens liked so much. She called to the rooster, and he waddled over, followed by the hen and seven baby chicks.
Sitting there with her animal friends around her, Theresa began to feel that something was unusual, in fact, most unusual! What could it be?
Why, this was the first time she had ever seen all of the creatures who lived on the farm gathered so close together. Zorro the cat never could pass by the dog family's pen without them barking furiously at him. And Clyde the goat would run toward the chickens to scatter them in all directions. It seemed that none of them could ever get along. But look at them now! They were quiet and . . . what was the word Mother used? Oh, yes. Peaceful. They were at peace.
And today was Baha'u'llah's Birthday. He was bringing the Most Great Peace, when all would be unified. No matter what color their skin or what country they lived in, all would come together in love.
Theresa looked around at the circle of animals. She saw the black fur of Zorro, the yellow fuzz that covered the little chicks, Clyde's rough brown coat, and the white skinned pup named Sam. They were all different, just like the people of the world. And they were all at peace.
She must tell Mother right away about the wonderful thing that had happened in the barnyard. This really was a special day!
Scooping Zorro up in her arms, Theresa left the dogs to yelp their goodbyes. The chickens pecked for seeds in the grass. She raced across the field with Clyde beside her all the way. Slowing down only long enough to open and close the gate, she cried "Mother, Mother! You'll never guess what happened in the barnyard! "
The smell of freshly baked cake met her at the door.
(by Sheryl Michelli, illustrated by Linda Orlando; Child’s Way Magazine November-December 1982)