It was real. It was alive, but barely.
A few weeks ago I found myself at World Market. As I was heading to the check out line, I noticed what looked like a small bird—a hummingbird—atop a beverage case. It was real. It was alive, but barely. It had dust bunnies on its beak and I spent several minutes trying to figure out how it had gotten there and why it was still there.
I kept looking back to it as I waited in line. People kept passing it, but no one else seemed to notice him. His eyes were closed and one wing was stretched out away from his body. I went over to him and stroked the top of his head. He let me do this; barely opening his eyes. His breathing was labored.
After I made my purchase, I decided to pick him up. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I just knew he didn’t belong there. A man who worked there noticed what I was doing and inquired. In doing this, he called more attention to us. Two ladies who also worked there, one of whom had a hummingbird tattoo, shared in the sadness of this little guy’s plight. We together decided I should put him outside in one of the bushes. His little feet clung to me as I tried to put him down.
I got in my car and drove away. I said a little prayer for him.
All the way home I kept thinking of him. Why was he inside? Why wasn’t he fluttering around? His wings didn’t seem to be broken, what was wrong? I started thinking about hummingbirds and their symbology:
Hummingbirds represent life and joy and eternal goodness.
I started crying. I hoped that, if it was his time to die, I had done the right thing in putting him outside. Was there some lesson I was to take away from this?
When I got home to my family I told them what had happened. I told them I hadn’t been sure what to do and that I was sad. My uncle suggested that the little guy had probably flown away by now and not to worry about it, but when I told him how still the little guy had been, how he had let me hold him with no trouble at all, my aunt chimed in and said, “well maybe he’s just hungry. go get him, if you want.”
I did want.
I drove the 15 minutes back to the store. He was there! Still breathing; his little feet clinging to the branch where I had left him.
I got in the car and put him in my lap. I sang to him. I asked him if he had ever been in a car before. I told him we were headed home and that my family had plenty of sugar water and that we would get him all fixed up. He would occasionally move his head, or his little wing, and I kept singing to him, as if my song might make him feel better. I took him to one of the feeders in our back yard when we arrived, but he wouldn’t drink. So, I held him in my hand, dipped my fingers into the sugar water and began feeding him.Little by little he drank, his long tongue sliding out to sip a bit from my fingertips. He would open one eye and sort of peer up at me and then go back into his pseudo-hibernation.
I had never seen a hummingbird so close and I kept talking to him. He started moving more and more, little by little. After about 10 minutes of resting in my hand and increased periods of drinking, he tilted his head upward and suddenly flew away. He flew to a tree branch near by, looked down at me, and made his way into the sky.
Just like that he was alive and awake and nourished! Nourishment was all he had needed. Such a simple thing, yet he could have died on that branch outside of World Market or, even worse, inside atop that beverage case.
He didn’t come back to drink again, though I hoped he would. Our transaction had been completed. The lesson I took was this: Sometimes, a bit of caring is all that is needed to make things right. Sometimes, the healing that is needed belongs to another; but, if we pay attention, if we practice loving kindness, we can heal ourselves, too.
I was so happy when this little guy flew away. The rest of my day was filled with absolute peace.
Stacy Jethroe is a singer-on-hiatus and an aspiring writer, a lover of artisanal wares, and quinoa and kombucha. She is rediscovering her spirituality and still not sure of things, but she does know that Love is the Answer. She’s a Cali girl mixed with a healthy helping of the Midwest, doused in Bostonian saltiness and proud of her love for the expression “y’all”. Sriracha touches most everything upon which she dines, which is a lot, ’cause she’s a Taurus (and they like to eat). She believes that sharing the parts of ourselves we fear to share is what makes us human. Find Stacy on Facebook and Twitter.~Ed: Sara Crolick