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therapeutic

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.

Journaling: A Way To Heal

I have been “off the grid” for a couple of weeks.  This does not mean I have not been writing.  The fact of the matter is that I have been writing a lot, just not publicly.  Normally, I am a very “open” person.  Those of you who read my postings regularly know that I share quite freely about my emotions and the circumstances and events that take place in my life.

However, there are some things that come along that I need to deal with on a more private level.  I have several networks of friends whom I can turn to on occasions such as these.  I also have my intimate relationship with the God of my understanding and even when friends are not available, He is always ready to help me bear my burdens.  And, of course, I have my best friend, my husband.

But, perhaps because of my deep connection to the written word, I also use the tool of writing to help me in such times.  I find that journaling about a problem or an issue helps me to put things into perspective a little easier.  And just the fact that words appear on paper is already a balm to my troubled spirit.

When I journal I always use pen and paper rather than the computer.  I love the old-fashioned way of expressing my thoughts by manually writing them out.  There’s something more personal, more intimate, about hand-writing.  And, of course, it’s my handwriting, which brings the subject matter even closer to home.

So when I am heart-burdened, writing out the problem, the pain, the confusion, in long-hand is very therapeutic.  I can sometimes find the courage to put some words down on paper that I might not be able to express verbally.  And even though it’s subjective, there is also that sense of it being someone else’s problem.  In fact, sometimes I write in the third person singular, as though I were writing about another person.

Journaling my sorrow allows me to get what’s inside, outside.  It is yet another way to nurture myself.  I refuse to be bogged down by pain, and I surely do not want the pain to fester into anything like resentment or anger!!  Those are two cancers of the soul that I will not allow to hang around.

And so my pen travels across the pages of my journal, and as it leaves its inky trail my heart lightens and everything seems more bearable.  I always have a handful of pretty journals on hand for such writing.  Wrapping those dark feelings between two beautifully designed covers somehow lessens their hold on my heart and turns my journaling into another level of spiritual growth.    

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