I got buzzed by a hummingbird yesterday. Not for the first time. They routinely chase each other way from the feeder, and if I happen to be standing or sitting nearby, they swerve around me at high speed, chittering away at each other. It’s startling, their fierce flying. One male likes to perch on the begonia plant, like a sentry, keeping an eye to the sky and driving away all comers. They get their turn, eventually, dive bombing his head a few times. I love them. And as long as I keep the food coming, they seem to like hanging around me too.
In some native American and wisdom traditions, the hummingbird symbolizes joy. In Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams and David Carson say that, for many people, “the hummingbird is the creature that opens the heart.” I know that I am happy when they’re in the neighborhood.
I even had a dream about a hummingbird recently: It was perched in the palm of my hand. And it may have been injured, or just young. But it was staying there in my hand quite contentedly. I was excited; some other people were there, too and I showed them, and asked a person (the one who is always shooting photos) to take a picture of this rare and wonderful thing. But she didn’t have her camera. She left to go get it, and I waited. And waited. And waited. She didn’t come back. So I carried the bird to my red pick up truck, tucking it into the console where I made a nest for it, and drove back to my house to see what was taking so long. When I got there, this person was sitting at my desk, playing on my computer. She had forgotten me. I was furious; this was not the first time she’d blown me off. She made a weak excuse, and the vehemence of my reply woke me up.
The Talmud says, ” An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter from God.” So I examined it. If you’ve read a little Jung, you know that everybody has their own typology and symbols, but a few seem to be universal: a house generally represents the self; a car, the body or the ego. (Hmmmm. Bright red pickup truck!?) If you pay attention to your dreams, your own symbols in time will become clear. I didn’t need to do much digging, in this case. What was clear to me is that my joy is present, and it doesn’t really matter if anyone notices it or not. It rests contentedly in the palm of my hand. It may be young or vulnerable in some way. I want someone to notice it because I think it is a rare and fleeting thing, and the person I want to notice, especially, doesn’t. But here’s the thing-I have built a nest for it and it is riding in the console of my truck, staying with me, nestled in the space I have created to protect and care for it.
Joy may be a rare and fleeting thing for some of us. I think our task is to notice it when it buzzes by. Maybe even feeding it a little something sweet and letting it take a rest stop in our souls. Maybe our task is to build a nest in our hearts for joy to roost, so that we can take note of it and pause for a moment, enjoying its company. And I think when we notice our joy, we get better at noticing, and celebrating, the joy of others, too.
I hope joy stops by for you. I hope it buzzes by and startles you with its small fierceness. And I hope it hangs around awhile, settling into your open and beautiful heart.