I had company this weekend. My former roommate and her boyfriend drove up to spend time visiting with me. The two of us spent several hours yakking, as is our habit, and her boyfriend was gracious enough to allow us that time undisturbed, while he caught up on some well-deserved rest. We also attended two separate gatherings of friends and family. Memorial Day barbeques filled with lots of teasing and laughter, sunshine and relaxation.
In the course of her just over twenty-four hour visit, my friend gave me a priceless gift: myself. I know that sounds a bit weird, but somehow her simple presence invited and demanded that I be me. The person she knew and made friends with years ago. We talked and listened to one another, touching on all aspects of our current lives, feelings and perceptions about the people we are now in contact with, and all the things we do and have done in the months since we were last together. And that time, and all those words knit me back together again.
I have a thing about birds. They have symbolic meaning and are often seen as spiritual messengers. The messages they bring sometimes have to do with the colors of their feathers, their behaviors, or the manner in which they inhabit their environment. For example, the hummingbird is a symbol of joy. A hummingbird will not flourish in captivity. Neither does joy. A hummingbird is constantly in movement, seeking the sweetness of life, sucking it up through it’s long curved beak and immediately moving on to find yet more of the same.
I have not seen a great many of these creatures, so my response to them is intense and immediate. I feel they are a very special gift when they do appear, and I treasure those rare occasions when they grace me with their presence. Years ago, my Mother was hospitalized for a severe and unknown condition. We were all worried because the doctors couldn’t seem to find the cause of the acute pain that seemed to be draining her more each day. I had driven up here to be in attendance with my siblings as we waited for a diagnosis.
Turning into the driveway at my sister’s home, I was filled with foreboding and dread of what all of this could mean. My mind was working overtime at the possibilities and what each might portend. As I turned the key in the ignition, I looked up and my eye was caught by a strange looking flower my sister had planted near the white garage door, but off to one side. In that moment, a hummingbird appeared to check out the flower. My heart soared because I suddenly knew my Mom was going to be okay.
She was taken in for an MRI on that same day and the doctors were able to discover a rare infection that had somehow intruded on her spinal column. And with that discovery, they were able to proceed with a routine of medication that had her up on her feet and back to normal within a short number of days.
Needless to say, the hummingbird has a special significance for me. And because I try to be attentive to their very occasional visits, those visits have a tendency to mark important occurrences in a very memorable way. This time was no different.
I have been going through a number of changes over the past months. Helping to move my Mother into a near-by apartment, and then becoming one of her main caregivers as she has had to mend from a fall and resultant broken bone. Juggling my own schedule while attempting to maintain hers as well, hasn’t been an easy task, but somehow we have all muddled through it with bits of frustration and laughter all mixed up together.
I have felt a bit lost from myself, sort of like I (the essential me) was kind of floating close by, attached by a thin kite string to another person who looks like me and was always on the move, going somewhere, doing something, but not completely attached somehow. When my friend arrived and we moved with ease into our usual banter of laughter, teasing, and deep conversation, I could feel myself coming back to center, being grounded in some very basic manner.
In some unknown way, her simple presence seemed to demand, as well as invite me to be present as well. Yesterday morning, she brought me a potted Geranium which we immediately took outside and hung from a hook on the sun roof of my patio. It was strikingly bright red and I loved it. In the midst of all our activities she asked me for help to put together a lesson plan for a two hour class she will be teaching at a retreat this week. She let me drive all of us around the city and I haven’t had a car to drive in a long time. Had forgotten how much I really enjoy just driving. We spent a couple of hours exploring many of my coloring projects, discussing different things I could do with them, and she picked out her favoites making comments on how they made her feel. I spoke of my frustrations and she listened and both teased me and suggested a couple of ways I could change my perspective. She asked my opinion on ways she could do the same with her own situation.
Just before she left, she was examining a gift bag of flower bulbs someone had given me for Mother’s Day and I had had no time to plant. She used to keep a large flower garden and gave me clear instructions on what to do with the bulbs. As she bent to put a bulb back into the bag, I looked past her at the Geranium swaying a bit in the breeze on the patio. And there, near the brightest of the blooms hovered a hummingbird. I spoke in surprise at its being there, right on my patio, and we all watched as it moved away in search of more sweetness.
I turned to my friend and thanked her for the joy she had brought to me. The gift of helping me to remember who I really am inside, no matter the hectic new routine and the changes that have occurred. She grinned and said that I do the same for her. She and her boyfriend left, but the gift she gave me still hums through my awareness. I can feel it singing in the cells of my bloodstream.
Do you have a friend who brings you back to yourself, grounds you to the core of your being, and brings you the joy of a hummingbird?