Tag Archive | birds


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churr-churr!  he calls to me as I pick up

my morning paper; again he sings to me

in the afternoon as I begin my daily walk;

a twitter of friendship, kinship in this greening

world of spring;


or maybe not—perhaps a simple warning

to keep my distance from the nest he and his lady  

friend have crafted for their soon-to-be

red-bellied young;



or perhaps he doesn’t notice me at all,

just churr-churrs his two-word poem

for the simple joy of being alive, the brilliance

of his red head shining his delight,

inviting me to sing, churr-churr

with him the sparkling of a world drowned

in a sea of colors spinning out the springtime

hope we share;


hope for tiny feathered souls;

hope for secret nestlings brooding midst the darker

secrets of our hearts; hope for children tented

in crowded camps, tweeting needs and fears against

the noise that shrouds the colors of their world,

colors that yet push out through cracks

in concrete walls, push up through all the carnage

of our wars, colors churr-churring hope that springs

insistent, firm, across our sordid, wearied world.


Pentecost on My Deck


I was saddened not to be able to be in church to celebrate Pentecost a few weeks ago.  But as it was a warm day, I decided to spend some quiet time on my deck, simply looking, listening, and being open to all the wonders of my back yard.  What I experienced was truly a gift. 


Our resident mocking-bird trills her

song in a myriad of tongues—in sparrow,

wren, in chickadee and finch; red maple

sways in gentle breeze, a-blush with crimson

leaves of fire, prophesying summer sun

and raindrops dancing down from stars

that will forever sing their gladness in

the darkest of dark nights.


Two sparrows flit around their nest,

sheltering, feeding their tiny young,

all unaware of God’s heart beating,

God’s breath stirring in those fragile

fresh-born birds, mouths open wide

to take in all they can of life’s

abundant grace.


And yes, I say, yes, Pentecost

is here.  Right here.  Spirit whispering

in those flaming leaves, Spirit twittering

in the tongues of birds, Spirit caressing

tiny lives, even my own, as I sit lost

in wonder at this tender, holy

kiss of God.

Requiem for a Small Black Bird


I lay you to rest, little one, your

body rigid, stilled, and so alone,

at the base of an old maple tree;

cover you with fallen twigs and leaves;

simple nest to shelter your returning to the

elements of earth and air.

kyrie eleison


I have no words to speak; simply

mark the spot with mottled rock;

breezes hum above, a wordless litany to

close your too-short life.

kyrie eleison


I knew you only in your death;

dark mystery laid out at dusk on our cold

deck, tiny feet clutching the air,

feathers shrouded black around your

fragile bones, wren-like beak sealed

tight against the whistle of the wind.

Such dignity in your demise, your

moon-white breast so still;

such fearsome beauty shining

bold, shining proud against the

emptiness of death…

kyrie eleison


…a shining that has brushed

across the calloused ridges of my

soul, awakened me (how easily I

fall asleep!) to cherish every

fleeting wonder of this life, every

marvel wrapped in wingèd joy,

before it, too, is laid to rest beneath an

old maple tree, leaving me to

ponder mysteries of hope that

lie so close, and yet so far beyond the

final shelters that we weave with all our

fallen twigs and leaves.

Farewell, little one.

kyrie eleison

New Eyes for a New Year

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I ask this year for eyes—new eyes to see, to really see—

the shimmer of a winter sun dappled through the emptiness of trees;

the cosmic black of tiny titmouse eye—the sense of awe, the touch of

fear, the gravity so far beyond his tiny self;

for eyes to see the anxious twitch of squirrel tail, paws scrabbling

desperate through snow to find his hidden cache—how can I not forgive his

intermittent thieving from the feeders for the birds?

For eyes to read the poems of the wind, lines ragged,

harsh at times, but often soft and rhythmic, even kind; for eyes to

fathom something of the hallowedness in all this vibrant

life that breathes and dances just beyond my door.


I ask this year for eyes—new eyes to see, to really see—

the dazzle of imago dei just behind the masks that

greet me in the store or on the street;

to see the loneliness that hunches gray beside the

widower who sits near me in church;

to see the hope that glimmers in the hand of a child reaching

up and up and up.


I ask this year for eyes, new eyes—

that reach beyond my narrow life to vision

mother huddled in the soundless cold, her

children’s hollow eyes the only paintings on her

walls, confined now to a tent among the

rows and rows of tents that shelter

other refugees; for eyes that reach to

frame so many lives that ache with yearning for the

simplest things—food and water, schools, and freedom from

hostility and war that has defined, consumed all

they have ever known.


This year—no resolutions; just the

wish, the hope, the prayer, for new, unshuttered

eyes that open up my soul and

let the world come in.

Tiny Strength

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A solitary summer eve;

my world is hushed as fading sun

tucks itself into a bed of lavish green;

alone, I feel the starkness of the

coming night, the sudden stab of

fear to be, perhaps, unseen,

unheard in depth of coming

dark; and then he calls, my tiny wren,

pensive atop his shadowed post;

he, too, alone in fading light, alone but

singing yet against his fear, his song so

clear and bright, his piping strong and

bold, an evensong to chase away the

murk of night; and as he sings, the

ghostly edge of dark begins to fade; the

air around me breathes more peacefully;

and so do I.

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.


It was just an ordinary late summer afternoon.  I was relaxing on our deck with a book that took me back to16th century England—a happy escape from all the messiness of our 21st century!  As I turned a page, I looked up into the stillness.   And there he was.  A tiny wren.  Sitting quiet and alone on the railing.  Little head, little body, and little stand-up tail all alert and taut, but no sound.

I whistled something I thought was similar to his call.  He bobbed his head, flicked his tiny body this way and that, arched his head in my direction, and truly seemed to be listening ever so closely.

I whistled again.  In response, he chirped a deep throaty trill, a kind of gutteral gibberish.  I can’t begin to reproduce his sounds—they were so unlike his usual crisp, clear call.  Almost as though this little creature was speaking in tongues!  We didn’t have an interpreter, so I have no idea what he was trying to say, but he was clearly directing his husky warbling to me!

Then he became quiet as he again bobbed and twitched and stretched his tiny head toward me, as if to say, “your turn.”   It was all so delightfully playful!  I whistled again, and again he responded, a chattering from somewhere deep in his throat.

The pattern repeated itself over and over again, and our charmingly intimate conversation lasted for several minutes, reaching across the deck and spanning the gulf between human and bird.

I was enthralled!  He seemed more perplexed than enthralled, quite honestly, but he kept at it until, eventually, he decided he’d had enough and hopped into the bushes surrounding the deck.  But for those few brief shining moments, we were mysteriously linked—deep calling to deep—our spirits joined in a lively, almost holy dance of sounds never to be forgotten.   I sat in silence for awhile, humbled and blessed by this hallowed encounter and realized anew that God speaks to us in so many different languages.