At the Feeder

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Each day they gather at the table set

especially for them; crowding, shoving,

eager each to claim priority of space, to

snatch the first and finest of the feast.

The cardinal, of course, comes first,

a scarlet burst of swagger as he makes his

regal bow to me and to the world;

and then, in case I didn’t pay

sufficient heed at first, he, pompous,

bows again—before he deigns to take a bite.

The sparrow seldom comes alone;

he comes, instead, with aunts and uncles and with

cousins by the dozens; and they’re not a peaceful

clan!  They brawl and scrap and

snap and push, and, in their frenzy,

spray the deck with seed, which,

happily, the silky mourning dove collects in

humble bows and dips of pastel graciousness.

And then the chickadee, so ever prim and

proper, flies in to sit most daintily, concerned to

manicure her toes, remembering only now and

then to pop a seed into her mouth.  The

titmouse never lingers long—just a hurried

peck before he swoops away into the trees, his

eyes almost as big as he, and ever so forlorn.

Tiny wren avoids the rush, disdains the mob, and

comes alone to sample, taste, and munch, her tiny

tail as ever in-the-high, while silly nuthatch turns her

agile body upside down to grab a bite, as if to say she

thinks the world makes much more sense that way!

I love to watch our birds, and as they gather

day by day, I think of yet another feast, a holy feast

prepared for us—for us, though often we are just as

foolish as the birds, forget the grace that

summoned and instead come thoughtless to the

altar rail, display our cardinal virtues and our

vanities, and try to veil our sparrow scrappiness; cling to

titmouse fears, and feel our lives at times to be as

topsy-turvy as that of nuthatch eating

upside down; yet, broken, needy, we are

welcomed—all—just as we are, to eat and drink a

holy food that sates a hunger never filled by

earthly bread alone.

7 thoughts on “At the Feeder

  1. Carol, I was wondering where the path you had me on was going. A very interesting and thought provoking message. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Quite honestly, Norm, I wasn’t sure where I was going with this either when I began to write the piece. At first, I was just amused by the antics of our birds. But as I wrote, I began to see myself, ourselves, in these little birds, as we gather at the Lord’s Table, and I felt a sense of deep gratitude for the reception we all are given–no matter the state of our minds or our lives!

  3. Carol, the reading of this poem is a spiritual feast in its own right. May I have permission to print it in my church newsletter? Thank you. I has been the highlight of my day thus far.

  4. amen. beautiful!!!! tring to figure out who i am in the scheme of things – probaby not a cardinal, sparrow, or titmouse. maybe more or a chickeadee or dove. who are you at the rail???

  5. That’s a wonderful question! I think I’d have to say that probably there’s a little bit of every bird in me! Sometimes a bit of swagger like the cardinal, sometimes fearful like the titmouse, sometimes scrappy like the sparrows, and hopefully sometimes more like the graceful mourning dove. Thanks for a good question for everyone to ponder!

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