Years ago, when your grandparent’s grandparents were still young, in a sleepy university town, there lived a very special brother and sister. Matthias and Ingrid were their names, and they were twins, living with their mother and father, who was a shoemaker, out on the edge of that town.
At first look, there might not seem to be anything unusual about the twins: they were normal, healthy, children, helping their mother around the house and their father in his shop; learning to read and write, and laughing and playing with other children when they got the chance, which wasn’t all that often.
What made them special was their singing. They could sing anything, and when they sang together, people said it sounded like angels.
They sang together all the time: while they were working around the house, while they were working around the shop, when they were outside working, or playing. Just about the only times they weren’t singing were when they were sleeping, learning to read and write, or at the dinner table, because their father forbade it.
Late one winter, as the snow was beginning to melt, Matthias and Ingrid were out playing in the snow, and singing, when two brightly colored birds landed in the trees next to them. Imagine the twins’ surprise when the larger of the two birds suddenly spoke to them:
“What kind of birds are you? We’ve never heard a bird sing so beautifully.”
Ingrid answered them, still singing, “We are not birds at all. I am a girl named Ingrid, and this is my brother, a boy, whose name is Matthias.”
The other bird now spoke: “Only birds and angels can sing like that. You must be angels, then.”
Matthias answered, “No, we are just a boy and a girl.”
The larger bird now laughed, and said, “You can understand what we are saying to you, which means you are either birds or angels. Since I don’t see any feathers, you must be angels.” Then, the two birds flew off.
“People do say we sing like angels,” Ingrid said.
“But we can’t be angels,” Matthias answered. “We do things wrong sometimes, and I have trouble learning my words. Angels are either all good or all bad.”
Thinking any more about it made their heads hurt, so they went back to singing and playing in the last of the remaining snow.
Whether we are angels or birds doesn’t really matter: what matters is to just keep singing.