“Nobody can give you your joy
Nobody can rob you of your joy”
Clare of Assisi
Given the time of our season I felt it appropriate to bring forward a summer story. It stems from my experience last summer, but like any story that teaches, connects, and touches us, its effects and relevance are ongoing. This is a hummingbird story.
I was a newly arrived guest in the Catskills, NY and we were experiencing a heat-wave for quite a few days in succession. Where I was staying there was a resident hummingbird that I would greet every morning, but I noticed there was no hummingbird feeder. The next morning as I headed off for grocery shopping I decided to buy one. Unfortunately, wherever I went the hummingbird feeder shelves were empty, each store recommending another store further away, and again further away, until I was nearly an hour away from my house.
I was now very hungry, very hot, but still determined. Finally, success. A very cheap, inferior quality feeder, but it would do as a placeholder until new stock arrived at the local hardware. Late in the afternoon the feeder was in place on the pear tree and I was off to the swimming hole for a much needed dip after my extended morning-into-afternoon adventure.
I had not walked more than two minutes from the house when there on the road before me was a hummingbird with one wing splayed, the other folded against its body. I felt for a pulse, but nothing. It’s little body was still warm, and not a drop of blood or any other sign of damage. Normally, when I come across dead animals on the road I take them over into the grass or woods and bury them with a prayer of gratitude for their life and for their release and return. Not this time. I knew instinctively this hummingbird was a gift.
Carrying this delicate creature I returned to my house and placed it upon my altar, being watched over by Quan Yin, and its turkey and raven cousins. Later that night in my evening meditation I felt the very real and palpable energy of joy come right into my body. I cried tears of gratitude for this sacred creature and its great gift. The next day an inspiration came to me. My landlord was a very good and creative jeweler who made silver bracelet clasps and necklaces in various shapes, and he also made casts out of seed pods. I felt that the splayed wing of the hummingbird was also part of its gift, and so I asked my landlord if he thought he could make a cast out of it for a bracelet clasp. Due to the delicacy of the wing he was not sure it would work, but he was willing to try. He tenderly clipped the wing and began this process.
I felt I could now bury this little one and so I dug a miniature grave under the pear tree. I thought it appropriate it be buried under the feeder. Knowing however, the territorial nature of hummingbirds I proceeded with the burial in the afternoon when the resident hummingbird was not around. Just as I about to place the body into the grave the resident hummingbird appeared right by my ear and it stayed there until the burial was over. My sense was he was coming to honor his bird kin.
My landlord was successful and now I have a beautiful hummingbird wing on a pearl bracelet. It also looks like an angel wing (see image). Truly this little one was an earth angel. Both my landlord and I were deeply touched by this whole experience and we both shed tears as we glanced upon this dear hummingbird wing now immortalized and still exuding its energy for us.
It was shown to me that many times we need to keep up our perseverance, even when, or especially when, things get difficult and ‘“hot” and don’t seem to be showing any results (me getting hot and tired and hungry when looking for the feeder). And when we walk that extra mile for others we are given so much more in return, as I was clearly given. How does the fire of life eventually break through into a new found joy if we stay the course? How can our fire of determination and perseverance work for the good of others?
Summer is the season of the element of fire. Let us make sure we swim in the waters to provide a rich balance in our lives and ground ourselves in the Earth. In Hebrew the word for Heaven is Shamayim. Sha comes from the Hebrew Letter Shin, which means Fire. Mayim is the word for Water. When Fire and Water are in balance we get Heaven. And when Heaven meets Earth we come back and into the evolutionary Home that we are all creating together. Interestingly, there are approximately 300 species of hummingbirds. The gematria (numerical value) of the letter Shin is 300. Hummingbird represents the Fire of Joy!
May this Summer bless you
And may you en-joy all the fruits it provides, both Earthly and Heavenly!