Are you where you want to be?


The Garden: Hummingbird Haven

I created my garden to be a place of joy and happiness.  Somewhere that I could retreat to and rest.  A sanctuary away from the chaos that is the world outside.  I created it to be full of God’s natural beauty with flowers and plants and small items of garden art.

I have worked hard to make this creation but it is work that I enjoy and find to be very therapeutic.  Gardening is good physical exercise and therefore is a great workout for my body.  It is also wonderful spiritual exercise because I usually combine plenty of prayer work as I dig, plant, prune, and weed.  So the garden offers me the chance to nurture myself on the physical as well as the spiritual level.

For me there is nothing like being close to God’s creation to fill the heart with happiness and the soul with joy.  Watching green shoots emerge from seeds sown several weeks earlier is like having access to my own personal miracle show!  And when the plants grow and flowers bloom, filling the garden with perfume and color, I experience a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment like no other.

However, what I did not plan or expect was the incredible daily show that the hummingbirds put on for us.  In past years I have certainly been aware of the presence of hummingbirds in my garden.  But this year has been an amazing experience.  It is almost as though they have made my backyard their official playground.

I have a wonderful plant, which I know as Orange Trumpet Vine, that grows along much of the border fence in the back yard.  It also grows up and around the mailbox out front, and climbs up one of the columns on the front porch, trailing over towards the other column about six yards away. 

When I made the major renovation to the garden this spring, I “transplanted” the trellis archway from the back yard and made it the focal point of the newly enlarged front flower bed.  With the help of my friend Linda I managed to transplant the original Orange Trumpet Vine (I grew it from seeds from the island of Ischia in Italy) that grew all over the archway.  Thankfully it tolerated the move well and is now healthily flourishing in its place of pride out front.

The hummingbirds love the nectar in the glorious globes of trumpet blooms that hang richly from the Vine, and so I have always seen them in the summer gorging on their sweet treat.  But I also put a new hummingbird feeder out back and would see them from time to time there.  I moved this feeder a couple of weeks ago and had my husband hang it on the back wall of the house fairly near the window near my desk computer.

P6233569I noticed immediately that there was great activity at the feeder on a very frequent basis during the course of the day.  Richard and I also realized that the birds seemed totally unfazed by us being on the other side of the glass and he was able to get some great video and photos of them.

Then it occurred to us that we were hidden from them because Richard had applied a mylar screen to the windows to cut down on heat in our office.  So we began to spend quite a bit of time at the window watching these amazing creatures really “up-close-and-personal”.  They are nothing less than miracles.

Over the last few days we have keenly observed them.  Several times we have noted there were about seven or eight of them zooming in and out of the garden,  up into the trees of the pine wood behind our house, then swooping down to “dive-bomb” each other off the feeder.  This evening in particular we watched them as we ate dinner in the lanai and noticed some very interesting behavior.

One hummingbird would zoom down, seeming to go the feeder.  But she would pull up short and just hover there as though suspended from an invisible thread – a minute angel-like figure with wings spread, beating furiously.  Then a second bird would swoop in and hover about a yard above the first.  And they would both just hang there, in space before suddenly zooming off up into the trees.

A little later another couple came buzzing across the yard like two F-16’s on a training flight.  They twisted and turned, mirroring each others movements until suddenly one turned to face the other in mid-flight and they seemed to do a short dance in mid-air.  I am not sure if all this activity is part of mating behavior or if they are just being naturally playful.

P6233582 Whatever the reason, Richard and I are thoroughly entertained.  These delightful creatures are truly amazing to watch.  This evening among the many we were treated to the company of a handsome male.  As he moved around his ruby-red throat coloring was quite spectacular.  I am very happy that my garden has become Hummingbird Haven.

Check out these HD videos of the hummingbirds feeding.

Vignettes: The Spirit In Publix Supermarket

A couple of months ago I was part of a team putting on a women’s retreat.  We had come together on the Friday evening to do the set up and preparation for the weekend.  There was a lot of physical work involved and by the end of the evening I was tired, disheveled, and sweaty.  Although I felt in inner satisfaction at the work achieved, I did not feel pretty in that moment.

Some of the team had already gone home; family schedules or sheer tiredness.  But a handful of us put the finishing touches to things, and then gathered for a few moments of prayer together in the small chapel we had just created for the weekend. One of the ladies said a spontaneous prayer  about us being instruments of the Lord and asking God to let His light to shine out from us.

On my way home I had to stop off at Publix to pick up a few items.  It was almost closing time, about 9.40pm by the time I got there.  I ran in, grabbed what I needed, and headed out the store to go home.  As I stepped out and into the parking lot a gentleman had just parked in the Handicap slot and was exiting his truck.

In that moment my mind took in a couple of things: he had parked in the Handicap slot and he was using a cane for support as he walked.  I took my second step into the parking lot as he turned toward the store and our eyes met.  It wasn’t a “frozen-in-time” moment.  I’ll try to explain it. 

The next three or four seconds seemed to run in slow motion. Everything that happened was like a .1 of a second, frame-by-frame shot of those moments.  I took in the gentleman’s physical handicaps (possibly the result of cerebral palsy). I saw his eyes light up as he took in my presence.  I watched as his mind began framing a thought and then started transmitting that thought from his brain to his mouth.

Speaking slowly and with some difficulty he said, “You are so very pretty ma’am”.  I was totally caught off guard.  I think I hesitated for a fraction of a second in my step as I tried to process the words that I had heard and the context of the moment. And then I gave him a huge smile as I replied, “Thank you sir.”  Again, I watched his thought process form and the transmitting order going from brain to mouth, and he added, “You are glowing with prettiness”.  Without hesitation I said, “That’s because I’ve been about God’s business”.  He nodded, tipped his baseball cap, and we both went about our ways richer for our encounter.

This story so far, in and of itself, is beautiful.  But it didn’t end there.  I went home feeling light as a feather and feeling truly beautiful inside and out, as only a 65 year-old women who was feeling very scruffy at the time of this occurrence could possibly feel.  I was not only smiling with my mouth, but it felt like I had a huge smile inside my stomach that was just spreading all over my body.

Next morning I was up before dawn to head over the St. John’s river to the church.  We had an awesome first day of retreat and early on Sunday morning we gathered together in our chapel for morning prayers which Deacon Paul had written especially for our weekend.  Imagine the synchronicity, the God-incidence that I felt when we came to read the response that he had created for our Intercessions.  The exact words were (thank you Sue!),  “Lord, make us shine with the brightness of Christ.”