mankind was waiting for you
to come flying along.
lend us your wings.
Let us soar in
the atmosphere of Abba.
Lift us up to the heaven of holiness,
oh source of our being,
I love Seals and Crofts "Hummingbird," not just for the memories of tall grass, embroidered jeans, gauzy peasant blouses, and soft messages of hope it evokes, but for the very creature it celebrates.
The more I learn about hummingbirds, the more I realize that they prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are no "laws" of matter. The hummingbird dashes them with the lightning swiftness of her wings. Hinged wings that seem to dislocate and rotate...rather than flap, the only bird that flies upright with her face forward...rather than down, and a speed that generally exceeds twenty-five miles an hour. One scientist, in the PBS film linked at the beinging of this paragraph, calls them "nature's superheroes." I love them for their intelligence, gentleness, strength, and grace.
And hummingbirds are very smart! The have the smallest of brains, and yet they can remember every flower they have ever visited and how long it will take each flower to refill its store of nectar. The can travel vast distances and have the endurance necessary for long journeys. They learn which people fill the hummingbird feeders, and which ones don't...and interact accordingly.
This is consistent with my hummingbird experiences at camp...and at home. After arriving at camp each year, it takes about three days for the community of hummingbirds that live there to discover that I am home. I am convinced that they know me and know that if they wait just a few days, I will hang the feeder from the porch eaves, I will keep it filled, and I am a safe place to hover, and flit, and dance, and tease by resting upon the arm of my chair just inches from my hand.
There is one hummingbird, I call her "Life," (even though her markings are that of a male, I am sure she identifies with her more feminine leanings) who returns to my porch each year. Our shared life-transforming experience a number of years ago, confirmed in us a species-blind relationship that is enduring and still takes my breath away. The first time, upon my return to camp, she zips out of the large pine branches just an arm's reach from my cabin, and lands on my arm, I feel like I have been touched by the wings of an angel. If I am very patient, she will linger for longer and longer as my time at camp each summer extends from June into July.
During the bright, cool sunlit mornings and afternoons, she plays and hovers with her friends...moving from feeder to hanging petunias and lobelias, to the large pots of mixed wildflowers that stretch across my porch. But she is also a bit possessive and if any of her friends decide to hover too close to my chair or bob and weave around my hair, she will chase them off the porch and out into the sunlight.
But at dusk, she shyly comes closer each evening and lingers for longer. She returns to the "place" of our first gathering. She darts from the pine tree to my Adirondack rocker...back and forth, back and forth...reminding me that she remembers and making sure I know it is her. I assure her, I could never forget.
By the end of the first week we have returned to our now five year old rhythm of evening visits.
I love her. I love that she has taught me to look beyond the size of something in measuring its value, intelligence, strength, or worth. She has taught me that what we experienced that evening five years ago is as meaningful, and remembered, for her as it was for me. She has taught me that there is a mighty something, beyond all rhyme and reason, that brings us into relationship with one another for a holy purpose.
Gerogia O'Keefe once said of her encounter with a hummingbird:
"One day a hummingbird flew in. When I had it in my hand it was so small I couldn't believe I had it--but I could feel the intense life--so intense and so tiny. And I am, at this moment, willing to let you be what you are to me-- beautiful, and pure, and very intensely alive."
A few weeks ago I was back at camp for the Adult Base Camp program. And because we were running parallel with the Cowboy/Cowgirl program, for the first time in a long time, I didn't stay in Crowsnest, but in one of the beautiful new rooms in Aspen Grove. And although I wasn't on the porch of Crowsnest, my small balcony shared the same stunning east/west orientation of that beloved space. I was so thankful that I could still enjoy the rising sun in the morning and the color of dusk over Sleeping Indian each evening. And that first night, as the sky shifted from blue to lavender, to salmon, and I pulled my quilt around my shoulders to watch each transition from my small perch...a heard what sounded like a very large mosquito just behind my left ear.
As I reached up to brush it away, my fingers felt soft feathers. I slowly drew my hand back into my lap and waited. Then she landed and we watched the sky turn into an upside-down bowl of navy velvet, sprinkled with a million tiny diamonds...and we remembered.
so grateful for Life's love...
Kate Robertson, CS