Segnere: Seeing the world through hummingbird eyes (column)
May 22, 2016
I wish I had hummingbird eyes. No, I don't want an aerial sight of the world, nor tiny dark eyes. The eyes I wish for are the eyes which inspired me when our family first encountered hummingbirds.
We hung our feeder from the gutter by the sliding glass door, knowing it would be a nuisance, but convinced the proximity would be worth the inconvenience. We could observe the birds from the kitchen table.
We learned that establishing this feeding station required maintenance. The syrup must be changed frequently or our guests would get sick. The spot under the feeder had to be rinsed often to deter the insects attracted to the drippings. Our son often had a collision with the feeder as he used the entrance, yet he happily assumed the role of "drippings washer." Our daughters often mixed the formula and refilled the feeder. But it was my husband's involvement in this project that has left a lasting impression. He actually did nothing but observe. When the birds approached, his eyes became fixed on them. He gently pointed out their presence with hardly a sound. "Shhhh….hummingbirds!" he whispered, and he sat completely still. We couldn't help but mimic his posture and join in the watching. During the day, when he was at work and I sat with one or two of our children, the birds came without our recognition. If I noticed, I'd look for a moment and continue my work. The children copied my casualness, giving a perfunctory glance before resuming their activity.
Maybe we are all born with an inkling of hummingbird eye. I see it in my grandchildren. The trick is to nurture it as we age. Kids don't seem to carry the judgement and self-righteousness that can come with this awareness. It's easy to maintain an appreciation of the beauty in nature here in the mountains, but sometimes the beauty in the other person can be less obvious. Perhaps as we age, we allow our intolerance of others to form a cataract over our lenses. Or maybe we just have so much on our minds that we can't focus on our surroundings. It doesn't take a cell phone to cloud our vision.
Our world is filled with God's wonder! Imagine if we all had hummingbird eyes and reverently pointed out God's presence in all His creations. Imagine our children mimicking our posture as we stop in the midst of our business, to be present to the moment. Imagine our roads with drivers gently making their way. Imagine the checkout line in the supermarket with folks patiently waiting and chatting with fellow customers in line. Imagine our playing fields with teams and coaches alert to everyone's gifts and our bleachers resounding with cheers that do not discredit meekness. Imagine our schools filled with teachers and children alert to the goodness of this world and everyone in it.
How might we nourish our hummingbird eyes?
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We will need to fill the feeder (with prayer), rinse the drippings (practice penance & humility) and share the resulting love with others (build community). And I suspect we will need to place the feeder where we will be most apt to notice, even though it might smack us in the head as we walk by.
Lorraine Segnere lives in Jefferson County.
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