Friday, November 14, 2014

Reviving a Hummingbird

There he sat on the patio, calling my name, wanting me to see the tiny life cupped gently in his hands. “What do you think I should do with her?” he asked of me. I peered into the hands of my husband, the man who chooses life, and saw a female Anna's hummingbird breathing in the softest gasps of air, eyes closed. I reached to stroke her; I had never touched a hummingbird before.

It looked as if she may have knocked herself silly against the patio door, but she would die if left on the cold cement. “I don't know what to do with her,” I spoke without putting much thought into saving this amazing little creature. “Wrap her in a towel and lay her on the patio table. I have to finish vacuuming.”

He stayed planted in the Adirondack chair, hands cupped warm around this fragile bird and with one finger gently straightening her ruffled wings, he breathed life into her through prayer. He was touched by her helpless plight enough so that he stopped the cycle of chores to keep her warm and wait. While I on the other hand was entrenched in a to-do list and could not see the life of this hummer as a high priority.

Several minutes later I checked on the two of them. The hummer was gone. My husband's eyes shined bright throughout the telling of how this little bird stood wobbly in his palm and then took flight. Before going far, she turned back and hovered in front of him in gratitude. I missed it! I missed this miraculous moment because I was too busy vacuuming! The whole precious event only took about ten minutes and I let the opportunity slip by because I had something to do that would need doing again in few days.

It was a Charlie Brown moment for me. Good grief, I missed it! How could I have been so foolish as to trade in this tiny pocket of time filled to overflowing with the miraculous for the managing of the never ending daily dust and dirt. Ugh! I was impressed with my husband's perseverance and disappointed in myself for not being there to share the joy of the little bird opening her eyes, arising on thin legs, and then on beating wings with a pause and a glance of thankfulness.

There are these blessed moments, God-given gifts to stop us in the middle of our daily drivenness to fill our hearts with awe at the Creator's immense thoughtfulness of the tiny details in our lives. And so often we miss out, too busy with necessary but meaningless tasks. It is my husband's story because he was the only one there to see it; I only have the second-hand version since I chose to be a Martha not a Mary in those few beautiful moments. Periodically a female Anna's will leave the feeder and hover before my husband; he is convinced she is still thanking him for saving her life. And I believe the joyful reward my husband gained by waiting in these moments with her were nearly as wonderful for him.

I encourage you not to stand around, Charlie Brown-like, mourning the moments you've missed. Listen. May the lost moments inspire you to pay attention to the still, small voice of the Creator saying, “Look over here, I have set something aside to share with you.” It would bless my heart to hear your stories of being stopped in the middle of your headstrong direction and taking time to treasure the beautiful, inspiring details that filled your heart with awe.

P. S. I am still learning a lot about blogging. If you are following this blog you already know I do not have a regular posting schedule yet. So you don't miss a posting, sign up to receive posts in your email. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

This morning my husband made me this extra special latte. He had already made our usual cups, but I often feel the need for one more. The tired of the week had me in its clutches and warm cinnamon coffee, with a bit of chocolate stirred in, thawed the stiffness left behind by the sitting and listening and bearing of burdens. My dear husband can support this fact: I am mostly delighted by simple pleasures. I am overwhelmed and worn out by too many choices and complicated schedules. So much so that at times I have to start cleaning closets.

Do you know what I mean? When life feels complicated and my control over it is limited I look around and see what I can manage. Over time and hurried days the stuff in cupboards and closets starts to co-mingle and soon it drains too much time out of my life as I search for one, specific, misplaced item. I decided when I want to be creative or get dressed there needs to be a more logical flow to the way I store things.

Monday my husband came home from work to find each bedroom closet open and stuff spilling out on the floor and taking over the beds. It is great therapy for me to clean closets, cupboards and drawers: pulling things out, trashing or bagging unwanted items, and putting what's left back in purposeful order. Somehow the whole process lifts a weight off my shoulders and allows me to regulate my breathing. It calms me.

My recent trip to visit my mom opened a storehouse of ordinary days full of ordinary pleasures via pocket calendars left behind by my Grandma. She knew how to edit life down to the best and most important events; the few lines scrawled daily captured more than most people could in a chapter. Of course having lived next door to her for most of my childhood, I can see the details between the lines as her words pulled up pictures from my memory bank.

Nearly everyday she would report the weather; it was a good day if the sun was shining even if it was too cold for her. Captured in the daily scribblings, I find her doing ordinary chores like: laundry, hanging clothes on the line, baking, gardening, and regular visits with friends and neighbors. Days filled with completed tasks seemed to give her a sense of satisfaction and regular visits with friends and neighbors brought her joy. It was an era when people made time to swap howdies and check in on one another. Here are a few excerpts.

May 1, 1992 49° AM 69° hi
“A pretty day with wind, clothes dried fast. We got the patio cleaned & the geraniums moved down from upstairs. Joan came to stay all nite. Her, Terri & I walked.”

September 11, 1992 50° AM 72° hi
“A nice day. AM was cloudy. Picked beans & tomatoes also cucumbers from the garden. Went to town in afternoon. Baked pies for Stevens sale.”

October 15, 1992 64° AM 67° hi
“Cloudy & rainy day. We put in some storm windows. Bible Study here with 8 of us. Had ice cream & hickory nut cake to serve for Ralph's B.D. Joan & Alton called at 10:45 PM.”

In my mind's eye I still see a clothes line near the large cedar tree and the lilac bush. Old fashioned metal lawn chairs rested beneath the elm tree near the garage where I often found my grandparents snapping beans. Walking upon working elders required one to join in and lighten the work load. I see the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window next to the refrigerator covered from top to bottom with family photos.

Grandma's daily calendar full of ordinary tasks are jewels strung together with my closet cleaning days; memories of lessons learned from the women in my life over the years fills my heart to the brim with gratitude for the wonderful folks I call family. Though my chores differ in many ways, spending a few minutes plopped down in the middle of her day's work calms me and... requires less energy than cleaning closets.

I would love to hear how you bring calm back into your life. What memories of ordinary days do you enjoy thumbing through?