For her 78th birthday, we bought my grandmother
a birdfeeder in the shape of a church. It was white
with a cross on its roof, and I found it combined
two of her dearest interests—feeding others and
showing them religion. When I was a child, her own
church was Presbyterian. I spent Sunday mornings in
small wood-paneled rooms with blood-red carpet,
learning verses and peeking through prayers. I was
grown and free from Sabbath lessons before Hickory
Grove left the Presbyterian Church. The general assembly
voted to allow the ordination of openly gay ministers, and
two months later her church, white with a cross on its roof,
wore its old wood-carved sign with a blacked-out Presbyterian.
When she opened her gift bag and lifted out the birdfeeder,
she looked at me and laughed. Emry, do you really think
I’d ever be able to turn a blue jay into a Christian?