What Holding a Hummingbird Taught Me About God
My wife, Cindy, and I have been avid birdwatchers for several decades. On a recent work trip to Tucson, Arizona, we were able to spend a couple of days enjoying God’s feathered marvels of creation. Southern Arizona is a mecca for birders. And high on the most-wanted list are some incredibly beautiful hummingbirds that occasionally venture out of Mexico. It is common knowledge among birders that if you want to fully experience the world of hummingbirds, you must go to Southern Arizona.
While there, we learned of a hummingbird-banding operation that was open to the public. At the San Pedro House, a nature preserve near the Sierra Vista, we saw volunteers trap birds at feeders (not an easy task!). They brought the birds to tables where measurements were taken and recorded before they were banded with tiny strips of aluminum. Their movements could thus be recorded if found later.
The whole operation was fascinating. America’s top expert on hummingbirds, Sheri Williamson, was in charge. She shared with us what the researchers were looking for. The little winged beauties are exaamined for mites and whether they have some fat on them. If so, it means they are migrants preparing to move on. If not, they are locals. The hummingbirds weigh in at an average of 3.3 grams, which is about the weight of a penny.
The informal lecture was fascinating, but the best was yet to come. When they were ready to release the birds back into nature Cindy and I each, along with the other guests, were allowed to put our hands out and “hold” the bird as it was recovering from this short-lived traumatic experience. Mine was a black-chinned female. This is where God spoke to me.
I could feel the tiny bird’s warmth. This little bunch of feathers was breathing at about 120 breaths per minute, which felt in my hand like she was purring. But her heart rate was an incredible 1,200 beats per minute! It was so helpless and yet so beautiful. I had her life in my hands. But the only emotions I was feeling were those of sympathy and support. I wanted her to recover, to fly away, to be what she was meant to be. She was, in fact, a prime example of God as Creator and Chief Engineer. I was happy to hold her for as long as it would take.
It could even be said that I was feeling … love? Is that what God wants us to feel towards His works of creation, His world of beautiful and complex things? We have been placed in His living art gallery. We would greatly benefit from studying His works. You can always learn about an artist from their works, for they are windows into their souls.
The best insight I experienced is imagining what God feels as He looks at us. We are, so to speak, tiny in His large hand. We also are experiencing the trauma of this world. We need to recover from so much of it. Yet, God pities us and holds us as long as it takes for us to become what we were created to be.
I held her for one minute, then two. She finally moved, straightened up. Then ZOOM, she was gone in a flash. And I was so happy for her.