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.