To Hold a Hummingbird in your Hand

Guitarists – I’m not talking about the famous model from Gibson that we all have coveted at one time or another.  I’m talking about an actual hummingbird – those wonders of God with the jeweled feathers, the mesmerizing flight, and the impossibly small nests.

Today, at the end of our sound-check before service, I was in the foyer of our church and high up in the windows I saw a hummingbird flying, and it wasn’t trying to get in, it was trying to get out.  I’ve seen sparrows and other more common birds in churches before and even rescued a small brown bat from our church back in MI long ago – but never before a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds are known to have to eat very regularly because of their metabolism, and this one wasn’t about to find nourishment inside anytime soon.  Quick action was taken by one of the ladies in the church to grab one of our fake plants and use it as a sort of broom to try to coax the hummingbird towards the open door.  She succeeded in getting it lower – but also it seemed like it was getting panicked.  I asked her to stop to see if it would climb onto my finger so I could release it outdoors.  To my surprise, she climbed on for about a second then buzzed off and back onto the window sill, sitting still.  She was so incredibly small and frail looking.  Someone suggested to try to cup a hand over her – which my hands are pretty large and I was able to do without issue.  I gently scooped her off into my other cupped hand, making a small hummingbird cage with both hands, and it was almost as if there was nothing in them.  I quickly walked outdoors and half-expected that when I opened my hands, there would be nothing there because I felt nothing in my hands – I thought she might try to poke me with her needle-sharp beak, or feel the buzz of rapid fire wing-beats or something – but I felt absolutely nothing.

I walked to the nearest bush or tree that I could find to allow her to catch her breath and when I got there, and took my covering hand off, she was actually there in my left hand, with wings akimbo and her head cocked to one side.  I thought immediately that I must have injured her when I either cupped my hand over her on the window sill or when I scooped her into my other hand.  She remained that way for perhaps just a second or two and then…

ZIP – a straight vertical shot out of my hand and up into the deep blue Colorado sky and she was gone over the roof of the church.  The whole situation lasted perhaps a minute at the most.  Fleeting.

As I type this, it seems surreal – but it did happen – I have several eye witnesses to the facts.  I love watching hummingbirds, and I’ve been pretty close to them before – we have many opportunities for that here in Colorado.  This one was a female broad-tailed hummingbird.  The males you can actually hear coming and going because they make a sound not unlike the sound from the Jetson’s ‘car/spacecraft’ as they zing around.  I love watching the slow-motion video of their wing motion; how they stir the air at speeds too fast for the human eye to perceive to keep them suspended in one place and then suddenly seem to vanish only re-appear 2 feet away instantly.  Even though it was just seconds, I quickly realized how privileged this particular moment was.  I never imagined in my life that I would hold a hummingbird in my hand.  And yet today, it happened.

Moments later, we were in our prayer room at church, our pastor was reaffirming to those of us in our worship team about our purpose for the next 15 minutes or so – to lead and prompt those in attendance for this service in a collected act of worship to God.  This privilege is also fleeting, a brief slice of time which may have the same life-giving significance for a fragile soul in attendance as the opening of my cupped hands and resulting vertical take-off into the sky moment for the delicate hummingbird just minutes before.

The weight of the responsibility was felt by me, and perhaps one or two others, but I quickly thanked God for the opportunity and the privilege to lead in words of lasting truth and significance and as we left the prayer room felt the freedom of my soul soaring like the hummingbird.

Maybe there’s not a huge connection moment for you in reading this post.  But for me, I’m not sure I will forget the coupled fragility and freedom of what it means to participate in leading worship.  Have any of you had similar moments?




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