A Route of Evanescence

Last Thursday morning, after the Office of Vigils and before Morning Praise at the monastery, I joined the community in a personal time of Lectio Divina. The Benedictines have been practicing this act of deliberate scripture study for 1500 years.

It was a beautiful morning—bright, barely crisp, just cool enough in the mountains to require a sweatshirt. I’d borrowed my mom’s bright pink Young Life sweatshirt for the trip. It was big. It was cozy.

We had thirty minutes for prayer before the morning worship service would begin. So I hadn’t gone far, just out the side door to a porch swing. It was the fifteenth, so I followed my secret five Psalms a day rule and opened to Psalm 15: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” I laughed. Of course, this was the same Psalm I wrote to you about last month, how it had spoken to me about sojourning versus dwelling, and what it could mean to faithfully dwell on God’s hill and sometimes sojourn up to his tent.

While I meditated on those words, I closed my eyes. I must have been sitting still as plant life, because at some point into my praying moment, I felt a vibrating sensation near my cheek. I opened my eyes from prayer to find a hummingbird’s beady eyes gazing lovingly in my face. The moment was surreal. I remember it in slow motion: its beak coming in for some human nectar, my scream in reaction, how my arms flailed in an attempt to save myself from becoming hummingbird food.

It was only after my scream that I (still in slow motion) could turn and watch that hummingbird fly away, that I could even register in my mind how I had looked a hummingbird (what has always been one my favorite creatures to catch sight of) in the eye, that I had a moment of savoring what bird lovers everywhere would dream of experiencing. If only I had been more Snow White and less me, I would have held out my hand and sung it a calming song. It would have perched with me and whispered secrets of scripture into my ear.

Instead, I was a disappointment, a bright pink flower with a scream attached.

So, hummingbird wherever you went that day, I hope you had success. I hope you found a flower that didn’t have a human brain, and I hope you know that I loved you, even if I didn’t get to say so in the midst of my nose-protecting.

In honor of my hummingbird, I’ll end with Emily Dickinson’s poem about her. I won’t comment on the poem. I find that anything I think is worthy of saying about my girl Dickinson adds nothing to her beauty. (Micha talking about Dickinson is like screaming in a hummingbird’s face.)

A Route of Evanescence

With a revolving Wheel—

A Resonance of Emerald—

A Rush of Cochineal—

And every Blossom on the Bush

Adjusts its tumbled Head—

The Mail from Tunis, probably,

An easy Morning’s Ride—

(circa 1879)