lessons learned: hummingbirds and hope

In the past couple of weeks, I have found myself taking refuge on my screened-in porch during times of day when the birds feed.  Whenever I begin to question humanity or grieve for this world, I find that sitting among nature roots me in the simple, good things that our Creator has to offer.  It centers me in the hope and peace I need to nurture my spirit amidst the chaos.

One cloudy afternoon, I sat on the blue glider rocking myself as warm tears ran down my cheeks–so many global and local events to mourn, so little understanding why they happened.  As I watched the chickadees at the feeder to my right, I heard a whirring buzz quickly approaching my left.  There, darting and diving among the leaves of the dogwood tree, were two female hummingbirds.

Because the front of our little homestead is filled with colorful flowers, most of our feathered friends spent summer hanging out there.  I had not noticed the hummers return this year.  As the gardens faded, however, the little creatures came to the back of the house seeking the feeder they had enjoyed the summer before.  This year, I had forgotten to hang it on the hook, but both birds flew to it in its resting place on the baker’s shelf.

I am not sure if my giddiness came from the delight of knowing they were back or the sense of hope it brought me in the midst of my lament.

I filled the feeder, removed the wind chimes, and hung the bulb full of their sweet elixir just in time for their return to the tree.


As I nestled into the glider, I noticed one of the gals perched on a slim branch above the feeder while the other buzzed delightfully from opening to opening, filling her beak.  Most days since, I have been able to catch them in the early morning hours or just prior to twilight as they hover, chatter, and sip.


I’ve named them Mary and Martha because of their personalities and feeding style.  Martha busily dances around the feeder filling her tiny belly while Mary patiently waits for an opening to pause on the edge and take her time enjoying the sweet treat.


In these recent weeks as Violence, Hatred, and Bigotry continue to divide communities through word and action, I find respite in these two little friends.  The invite me to pause and remember the covenant of love our Creator made with us.

Regardless of those things that seem to overwhelm our world with darkness, even they cannot overshadow the smallest acts of hope that appear unexpectedly.

My prayer is that in times like these, we will not become paralyzed or grow weary–that even in our lament, we will remember the promise of hope and healing available to us all.


lessons learned: forgiveness like a tree

This morning in my quiet time with the Creator, I was gently reminded that I needed to stop focusing on patterns of the past and let them go.  I suggested surrender as the answer, and the Creator smiled and reminded me that in this case, it’s not just about letting it go, it’s about moving forward and not holding someone (or ourselves) to those same patterns of the past.

While I know there is truth in those words, sometimes, it just seems easier to to get caught up in the muck and mire rather than doing the work of forgiveness.  And I call it “work,” because that is exactly what it is–work on ourselves that encourages us to heal and grow or work on a relationship to repair the damage done.

This older meditation came to my mind so I thought I would re-post here today.

shalem.tree on angle.jun2016

Forgiveness is the healing of wounds caused by another.  You choose to let go of a past wrong and no longer be hurt by it.  ~Real Live Preacher, Weblog, July 7, 2003

Growing Grace Farm is nestled in a suburban, woodsy neighborhood.  In the late afternoon, I love to walk through the back area as the shafts of light dance playfully among the leaves of the trees.  Sometimes, I will just lie down on the ground and look up in awe at the number of years it took for the oaks and tulip poplars to grow to be so formidable.  If I catch the light just right, I can see scars or bumps on the outside of a tree–a place where the bark is clearly not unified with the rest of the trunk, and yet, the tree continues to grow past that scar and live a healthy life.

Perhaps, the same can be said about the process of forgiveness.  Not only do we acknowledge the wound, but we don’t become stunted by it.  We intentionally nurture our spirit and self to let it heal, we honor the scars but create new life and continue to grow.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Yesterday morning and again last night, I heard my first geese fly overhead announcing their journey to the southland.  While others may consider it squawking, I find their chatter comforting as it reminds me that my favorite season is on its way.  And so, I’m following my tradition of posting this poem at the first call by the migrating wild geese.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.