I woke up this morning to the sound of the ocean pounding the shore, birds in the trees, and some kind of lizard that had been chewing my roof all night. I slept pretty well despite his little feet running back and forth, but the crunching–the pulling of splintered wood from outside my ceiling–that kept me up here and there. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t the slightest bit annoyed; just one more sound in the cacophony of waves, cars on the street behind the hotel, the hum of the air conditioner, and my own even breathing inside my ear-plugged head (the chewing was a bit loud at times).
When I cracked my eyes open this morning way before I intended to get up, I could see the orange glow between the slats of the brown blinders, golden fingers of light inviting me to greet the day. I peeled myself away from the still crisp sheets of my bed, slipped on my shorts, and opened the door of my casita to this:
About a minute after I took this picture, at the moment I was coming back out to sit on my veranda, a little bird flew into the windowpane of the room next door. I ran over to scoop her up, and I’ll admit it didn’t look good. Beak open wide, wobbly legs a wing that wouldn’t spread. I was going to start my beautiful day with a bird dying in my hand. And those of you who know me know I’m an avid bird rescuer, having a lifetime of practice with 40+ years of cats and a decade of barn swallow babies who fall out of nests way up in the rafters.
Anyway, while all this is happening, the last of my retreat yogis is coming along with her bags, heading off to La Costena Airport to head home. Susan sees me with the bird. We both know it’s in trouble. I tell her the story of the hummingbird I held in Guatemala ten years ago. It flew through an open air cafe into a wall and fell in a little heap (the hummingbirds in Guatemala are big)! I remember the gardener telling me to break its neck and put it out of its misery, but I shuffled away from the man and took the beautiful sparkling green-feathered bird with its two-inch long beak back to my hammock and just sat with it. It was near lifeless, but I whispered to it and stroked its grass green wings and waited…
Susan and I hugged goodbye, I wished her a wonderful flight, and I turned my energy to the little pale yellow-green bird in my hand.
Holding something so small, so fragile, so likely to die in my palm is a lesson in awareness. This moment of looking into the eyes of an injured creature allowed me to stop and be still. To be completely present. I held a life in my hand. What a gift! What an opportunity to not care about the coffee I had just poured or the interrupted sleep I had last night, or even the 20 yogis my retreat partner, Kate, and I had said goodbye to at Yemaya. To not care about the things that are not perfect in our world. To let go of expectations and judgements, and even lose myself for a bit in the knowing eyes of my sweet winged friend. She was certainly looking into me, and maybe not with a brain that was processing like mine. I guess we were seeing each other as Being–as light; and when you can stop and have that experience with another soul, there is nothing more wonderful than that moment.
After about a half hour, the little bird hop-flew from my hand to my chest, right over my heart. Little claws clutched the fabric and dug in, and its tiny breath and heartbeat hovered above mine for a bit. All the while she looked up at me, and I looked down at her, beak now closing, wings relaxed. I have never been so content to just sit in the early morning sun, me and my little bird sitting on the nest of my chest. I could have stayed all day like that.
But then she fluttered to my shoulder and sat under my hair. I could no longer see her, but her diminutive talons gripped my skin, and I felt one wing stretch out under my earlobe. I waited. It was another precious moment to be still.
She attempted to fly, making her way to the neighbor’s screen, where she hung sideways with one claw attached and the other falling down, opening up her sunny chest to the sky. Quickly, I crept up on the porch, clutched her in my loose fingers and brought her to the shade of the coconut palms out front. Maybe here, she could see where to go.
Eventually it happened: just like the Guatemala hummingbird zipped out of my fingertips like a rocket after a half hour of stillness, this sweet little bird mustered up her energy and launched herself up and over my casita into the trees. Oh my heart! I hope to the heavens above she makes it. Although I will never know the answer, I do know this: “we are all just walking each other home, ” as Baba Ram Das once said. If only we could remember this each and every day, what a difference we could all make!
I hope you all wing your way into the light of this clear blue morning! From my heart to yours, much love from Nicaragua,