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My Life as the Hummingbird

Posted May 06 2011 10:22pm
Some months ago, while updating the blog, I changed the background to a pink silhouette of hummingbirds.  At the time, I didn't really know why I chose that as the new backdrop to the blog, other than the fond memories I had of watching the tiny birds hover above my grandfather's azaleas as a child.  More recently, I have developed a strong bond, or connection, to the hummingbird.  It's symbolism and mythology are especially meaningful to someone well into their journey with PD.

Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere, so they are not a part of traditional fairy tales, myths and legends of European and African descent.  However, Native American mythology is rich with stories of the hummingbird.  Due to their ability to go into torpor, a hibernation-like state, and quickly waken again, Native American legends often tell of this tiny bird renewing life, or bearing with them light like the sun.  One belief is that hummingbirds act as messengers between words, helping shamans keep the balance between spirit and nature.  There is a Pima legend that tells of the hummingbird who, like Noah's dove, brings back a flower as proof that the great flood is subsiding; life renews itself in a brighter day, in a better world. 
Symbolically, the hummingbird represents regeneration and resurrection.  She is the creature that opens the heart and allows it to heal.  The hummingbird is the only creature that can stop instantly while travelling at full speed.  She can hover, fly up, down, left and right.  She can also fly backwards, as if glimpsing into the past.  The way a hummingbird eats is also amazing - with her long, thin beak and tongue, she passes through the tough and often bitter outer layers of flowers to reach the sweet, juicy nectar within. 

Hummingbirds teach us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how fast we are going, we must always make time to stop and search for the sweetness of life.  We must look past the bitterness and the tough times, and instead focus on the light-hearted joy that comes our way.  Like the bird that hovers over the beautiful flowers in the garden, don't we all want to hover over the beautiful moments in our lives?  Don't we all wish we could fly backwards into our past, savoring each delicate, magical moment of it?  Hummingbirds flap their wings in a slight figure 8 motion, the symbol of infinity.  Infinite life, infinite love, infinite beauty, infinite joy, infinite patience, infinite wisdom.

The further into the world of PD that Keith and I go, the more the hummingbird speaks to me.  This tiny bird teaches me so many invaluable lessons.  Like the bird that seem to die each night and resurrect and renew her life each glorious morning, I too, renew myself each day, in faith, in prayer, in love, in commitment to my husband.  Like the bird that stops mid flight to hover over the beautiful flower, drinking in that which sustains it, I too, have learned to stop in my busiest moments and hover near the beauty of my own life, drinking in the sweet sights and sounds of my family.  Like the bird that moves her wings in a motion of infinity, I have found infinite joy and love, and that I must pray each day for the infinite wisdom and patience I know I will fall short of. 

If PD is a flower, then I am the hummingbird, constantly hovering over it, reaching deep, past all that is bitter and rough, to the sweet nectar that nourishes life, that which sustains me.  With infinite love I move my wings; I move myself  up, down, left, right, in any way that is required of me to reach that nectar.  And sometimes I even fly backwards, looking to the flowers of yesterday, savoring only how pleasant each flower was.  How wonderful to be a tiny little hummingbird amid the dark, scary thorns of PD. 

Summer Story by Mary Oliver

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine,
into the funnels

of the blossomsand the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,



 I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in this world


that aren’t
pieces of gold
or power-------
that nobody owns


or could but even
for a hillside of money-----
that just float
in the world,


or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines,
and now here I am

spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling, so that I feel I am myself
a small bird with a terrible hunger,with a thin beak probing and dippingand a heart that races so fast
it is only a heart beat ahead of breaking------and I am the hunger and the assuagement,and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,and, like them, I am full of delight, and shaking.





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