May I be at Peace...
You have met this beauty before. I use it as an avatar on some of my social media apps. It is either an immature or female Ruby Throated Hummingbird (the original Hummer)...and the only hummer found East of the Mississippi. This particular bird is resting on my hand, having just tried to fly through our front window. The bird rested thus for about five minutes before testing its wings and then flying away. I cannot think of many other encounters with the natural world that have so delighted and inspired me.
This was not my first close encounter with a hummer. Here is a similar scene, brought about by similar causes and conditions, at my mother's home in Florida. Mercifully—another happy ending.
These pictures, and those following, came to mind in my meditation this morning. I have been working on the phrase, "May I be at peace." Peace, in the mind, heart, body and spirit, is such an elusive thing. What exactly is it? What am I looking for or anticipating as I ask for Peace, for myself and for others? A Quiet Mind? A Settled Spirit? A Pure Heart? A Relaxed Body? Well, yes, all of the above, and yet...not really.Take this hummer, for instance...at Peace? It has just had an unprotected, sudden, and nearly catastrophic encounter with a plate glass window, an encounter not at all programmed into the bird's DNA. It went from completely free, to shattered, to nearly dead, to completely free...in a five minute time frame. I consider this drama, and find myself relating at the deepest levels. Peace, it seems, is in this timeline somehow. But where?
The open hand is the clue!
Here is another critter. This is a Luna moth. They are attracted to the sort of light one might have on a back porch. This one was on our deck early one morning. It had exhausted itself, perhaps, with a night of love-making, finishing it all up with a visit to the beacon light at our door. It was still alive, but thoroughly spent. I held it for a while, wishing a grandchild were present, to whom I might introduce this absolutely lovely being. It seemed to be at peace with all things.
I thought the loving thing to do would be to put it on a plant or in a bush where it might live out its remaining hours. We left home on an errand, returned, and found that a bird had decided to bring the Luna chapter to a quick end. Might I have done something differently? The moth's fate was, as we drove out the driveway, quite literally out of my hands.
(It is the Ovenbird who sings, "Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!" in full voice through Spring and early Summer.)
Again the sudden suffering. Again, the hands. Again the Peace. Again the restoration. My willingness and capacity to hold meeting beauty, shock and precarious hope. I can just about bear the whole idea, but just—for I am like the Luna, the Ovenbird, the hummer.
I wonder if you see where this is all leading. We are like the birds and moths. We have those plate glass windows that we run into, the lights in which we exhaust ourselves. We fall stunned to the deck of our lives. Causes and Conditions. Not fault or wrongheadedness. Plate glass. Suffering.
There is certainly a measure of learning to be done in these encounters. But, what we chiefly need is to be held in someone's hand. To be held in the palm of Compassion. To be spoken gently to as our brains shudder and reel.
I believe that the Peace I am seeking in this phrase, "May I be at Peace," is the peace one feels resting in those compassionate palms. And, if we are at all like the critters around us, this hands-on compassion allows us to blossom and flourish, in the midst of all the causes and conditions.