Sacrament of Broken Seed

I like to choose a word at the beginning of each year that I can come back to, like a touchstone in my pocket, over and over again. My word for this new year is ENCOURAGE.

There are times when we can encourage and offer strength to another. There are also times when we are the ones who have need of receiving encouragement, accepting offers of help. I have long loved the following poem.  I am reminded of the power of encouragement when I see the scarlet flash of a cardinal and watch him and his mate choose to nest in our garden.

At the Winter Feeder

His feather flame doused dull  by icy cold,  the cardinal hunched  into the rough, green feeder  but ate no seed.  Through binoculars I saw  festered and useless  his beak, broken  at the root.  Then two: one blazing, one gray,  rode the swirling weather  into my vision  and lighted at his side.  Unhurried, as if possessing  the patience of God,  they cracked sunflowers  and fed him  beak to wounded beak  choice meats.  Each morning and afternoon  the winter long,  that odd triumvirate,  that trinity of need,  returned and ate  their sacrament  of broken seed.

~  John Leax, professor of English and poet-in-residence at Houghton College:


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