Thursday, May 19, 2016
Never a written understanding...
"Spiritual knowing will never have a written understanding."*
There is a place here in Tucson where I go to stand several times a day under a palo verdi tree. This is a great shade tree with lots of feathery hanging branches. It also gives me a closer look at the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Pantano Wash.
This year, standing under that palo verdi, just after I arrived for the winter, a flash of ruby-red bobbing up and down on a branch caught my attention. A little humming bird was resting there not four feet from me. I thought the breeze moving my large, floppy, sun hat would disturb the bird and initially it did. After a week or two, it began to stay longer. I generally stood about ten to fifteen minutes in stillness. Sometimes, I would do some editing which would extend the time.
I started to play a game of who could be in stillness the longest. Off it would go, yet strangely, every time it returned to the exact same branch, five inches up from the tip of the lower branch, to sit at the top of the V.
We stood there daily and sometimes twice a day if I was home. One morning, I wondered if this bird was ignoring me or just didn't see me. Seemingly, as soon as I had the thought, it zoomed like a projectile past my left ear and in a flash landed back on its spot. Had it miscalculated its flight pattern? But not so, for this past month I have felt the movement of air close to my ear, repeatedly.
One day, standing in stillness, looking at the cloudless blue sky, I was trying not to think, not to label, not even to judge this beauty as 'sky'. I also did not want to notice this little creature keeping me company as a 'bird' -- thus reducing beauty, aliveness and intelligence to mere object.
In a few days I fly back to Nova Scotia, I am almost packed. Standing under the palo verdi tree this morning, a thought, "I am going to miss this little bird but will you even notice my absence?" Ruby-red lifted off its branch and before I could blink it was a foot from the middle of my forehead, hair level, hovering in one spot, then back to the branch.
Two days before leaving: I take my place again, the bird is here. I watch it a little differently, thinking, yesterdays flight has 'gotta be' coincidence. Again, it darts toward me, same hairline positioning but this time it makes a perfect 180 degree semi circle around my head. A premeditated flight plan? I don't believe it. Yet, it is so fun to hear the vibration of wings, to think maybe it is responding and to get a close look at its under-feathers.
I check Google. How long do humming birds live? Ruby-throated humming birds live five to nine years and apparently, he is male. They are seasonal, solitary and not necessarily social. Plus, they can travel nine hundred miles over water without landing.
Back in Nova Scotia: This morning, I miss his four months of daily presence. Spiritual knowing indeed "will never have a written understanding." Yet, maybe, he will be back next year How will I know him? Oh yes, he will be 'five inches up from the tip of the lower branch, above the V' in the palo verdi tree.