Catechism, for Thanksgiving

Red-winged blackbird by Neil DasCatechism

Who made the birds in all of their variegated beauty?

Their flashes of scarlet dabbed on a jet black wing?

Their perfectly aerodynamic feathers waiting

to catch a breath of wind

and soar through nothing but air, pass nothing

but the shimmering leaves

at the very tops of the

sun-seeking trees?

And who gave man mind to name them?

As an exercise in simple gratitude

I list my favorite names for groups of birds:

a pitying of turtle doves,

a murmuration of starlings,

a spring of teal,

a watch of nightingales,

a host of sparrows,

a charm of finches,

a muster of storks,

a siege of herons,

a wedge of swans,

an ostentation of peacocks,

an exaltation of larks.

A sliver of God’s wild handiwork

simply in the vast engineering of eye and beak, feather, wing

and song

of just a few bird species.

Oh–joy and wonder,

May surround them as they glide;

May plunge them in a downdraft on a hazy September morning.

May perch them high in some

tree house hidden against

the rough and cool brown bark.

Oh loving God–you who thought of the red-winged blackbird

to flit through the reeds and take our breath away

–I cannot comprehend you.



Add yours →

  1. Stunning. Thank you, Angela.

  2. Oh dear friend! Swinging through the day with this poem in my head.

  3. Love. Thank you for this!

  4. Thank you for this. Such a lovely reflection and spur to gratitude. I love those bird group names. “A charm of finches.”

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