The Hornet and the Hummingbird

May 26, 2020

I love the early morning hours, the possibilities of the day swirl through my thoughts. This morning was no different as I grabbed the liquid gold which is coffee and make my way out to the back porch. We have lived in our home since 2007, however, in the past three months it seems that we have used this outdoor space more than all the years combined, an unexpected blessing in the midst of a pandemic. 

The sun had just risen above the spindly pine trees which stood tall and because of their proximity to each other appeared stronger than they actually were. Dew was still evident upon the ground although with the sun’s rising, I would expect to see it dissipate soon. I closed my eyes. As I removed the sense of vision my other senses became richer. I loved these moments as I began to hear the whistle of a bird while another chirped from another direction. The low hum of the cicadas was beginning as the heat from the sun began to warm the earth. I heard a distant plane recognizing that it was small. However, despite my sense of hearing picking up distinct noises, it was my sense of smell that captured my emotion. I am surrounded by tender vines of Carolina Jasmine. The tendrils are covered in flowers and flutter gently in the wind sending their aromatic fragrance as a gift I gratefully receive. I am reminded each morning of these simple pleasures and a Creator God that allowed me to experience them. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this pause in my day and for the very breath that I could take to know that I am alive. I am no more deserving of this breath than those who will lose theirs today. I am acutely aware of this fact having been witness as a physician for thirty years to the deaths that come to the young and old alike.

I begin to pray. A moment later I sense a light touch on my leg as if someone had exhaled their breath inches from me. I open my eyes and see that a hornet has landed there. Instinctively I shake my leg and it flies to the nearby flowers of the jasmine. As I watched this solitary sojourner make its way to the flowers, I became transfixed as I recognize that this hornet was one of many that was darting between each flower. They would disappear briefly as they sucked the nectar from its source and then dart past many flowers to settle in once again. I had never noticed this harvesting of nectar by hornets. I had seen the big fat bumble bees float between the flowers gathering their goods before flying to parts unknown, however, this was my first time to note these stinging insects also partaking. I don’t know why I was so fascinated, perhaps, it was my noting that much of what I had originally thought the movement of the vines was due to a gentle wind was in fact the entry and exit of these small little creatures. My aromatic gift that I receive from the flower was in part brought to me by this movement of hornets whose only previous gift had been a nasty little sting. I contemplated this and thought there must be a lesson somewhere in there for me. 

As I was appreciating that moment, from the corner of my eye I caught site of a flittering motion which captured my attention. It was a hummingbird. I gasped in delight. Now, you might not care much about hummingbirds, but I would dare say that you have not seen one in person if that were the case.  They are small, delicate birds with wings that move so fast you can barely see them. The wings help it maneuver in multiple directions at speeds that don’t seem possible. Their colors can be bold and striking or a simple black but each is known for its long slender beak to help it draw deep from a flower’s gift of nectar. I had not seen a hummingbird in some time though I put my feeders out each year. I had never seen them drawn to the Carolina Jasmine. I was mesmerized by this little bird who despite its speed appeared graceful almost magical like a little fairy from a children’s tale.

The perfection of the moment seems like a gift from God.  The little green hummingbird is the icing on a delicious cake. I wanted to remember the moments which had been given. Beauty, senses, contrasts, lessons seemed to flow from this pause in my day. 

I believe when we become aware of these little pauses in life, God can speak to us in many ways if we choose to listen. If we choose to be a student of life and living with a keen ear to the Alpha and Omega then no matter our circumstances we will have gained. This is what I was taught from the simple act of being still and observing with all of my senses:

  • When we close our eyes, our other senses come alive. They are rich with distinction and can become a delight.  Imagine sharing a meal blindfolded so that you could taste the flavors without assigning flavor based on vision. Imagine closing your eyes and touching the face of someone you love, learning all the nooks and crannies that make them, them. Imagine walking in the dark and listening for the borders of the road to guide your path.
  • Sometimes what we believe to be true is not in fact true. We see truth through the lens of perspective but miss it because we did not observe well. Perhaps, our brain registers something as true because of a preconceived notion of its truth. In my morning I attributed the motion of the flowers to be the result of a gentle wind when in fact credit should have been given to the gathering of the hornets. I should have thanked them and the flowers for this aromatic wonder. Sometimes truth is not always pretty, however, it is still truth. The truth for me in this lesson is that a Creator designed both the wind and the hornet. 
  • When we look, listen, feel, smell, taste long enough with a grateful heart, then wow, a gift just may show up in the form of a magical hummingbird, shooting star, or a summer rain. Gifts of nature are all around us and they are delightful. Let us protect this land that God created.
  • Finally, God created Carolina jasmine. Its beauty was not just for me or the bumble bee or that fantastical creature, the hummingbird. The flower also cares for the not so fantastical hornet. I believe this is a beautiful picture of Agape Love, a love that loves regardless. He cares for all His creation and humankind are the delight of his creation. He has the ability to love each one of us the best! If we know how much love we are given, maybe we can just try to share that love with people that are easy to love, i.e. the hummingbird, and those that are not so easy to love, i.e. the hornet. Wouldn’t our lives be better? Wouldn’t our world be better?

I am a moment catcher. I delight in finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. This is not my natural state but something I have learned from my eldest daughter, Amber and my husband Scott. These moments become treasures and can be remembered when the darkest of the nights comes my way. And they will come, they always do for each of us. You can be a moment catcher too; you may be surprised by what you find in your net.

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  1. Helen M. Pyle-Cook says:

    Well, said Pamela! I recall staying with you and Scott when you lived on the Ocean. As you know I am not a morning person, however when I was visiting ya’ll I truly enjoyed waking and walking on the beach (sand) as Dawn came up. I remember the glorious site of the colors in the rising sky. Thank you for allowing me to have these memories. Love you,

  2. Paula says:

    I am often afraid to learn the lesson; or if asking the Lord to show me the lesson, it is so that I may move through the experience quickly. I want to stay in the moment and savour the lesson and the life to be lived while abiding. I am grateful for your insights and musings.

    • Pamela pyle says:

      In writing a book on dying, I really began to understand the value of living in the moment. Not all moments are lessons, some are just meant to take our breath away with awe or stop our heart with joy or do both with intense suffering. We know we are not promised tomorrow and yet it is so easy easy to live as if we will have endless tomorrows. I will pray for the pauses to come your way and I miss you! Thank you for reading!

  3. Victoria Walker says:

    Yes Pamela! well said…thats just another reason I hate killing any bug! I know that God created it for a purpose…I just haven’t figured it out for some of them! palmetto bug comes to mind! lol

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