I love writing for our community. The four Advent blogs I recently provided in this space were a joy to write and I hope if you had a chance to read them, you found some enjoyment. Starting this New Year, I have been given the opportunity to continue writing here and I have chosen to share it under the banner, “Personally Speaking”. I hope to offer a “column-like” read during the first week of every month (or more often if I am able). In terms of content, as the title suggests you can count on it being expressed personally and authentically. I’ll endeavour to keep it to a brief and easy 2 to 3-minute read. I hope you find “Personally Speaking” worth the investment. Happy New Year!
A Hummingbird’s New Year
He’s chubby. He’s cold. He has us a little worried. He (or She) is a resident hummingbird. As I write this, there is a lot of early snow and unusually cold temperatures; adversities for these few little ones who extend their stay, expecting balmier weather. Our red bird feeder is a beacon of hope; some liquid sustenance to ward off the cold and ensure those wings keep beating at their amazing 54 flaps per second. I’m not sure it will be enough.
What do Hummingbirds and the New Year have in common? Not much except this little guy has got me thinking about 2023. Today he has one goal and that is staying alive. Not a bad New Year’s resolution if you’re caught out in the cold. But surely there is more to a hummingbird’s life than that. As it turns out, for most of these little fliers there is.
The Anna’s Hummingbird, which finds its home in our region, has a surprising story. While a handful stay the winter, most migrate back to the sunnier climbs of Baja California and return to propagate later in the spring. Even while having to overcome the risks of an annual 4,300-kilometre round trip, life is about thriving for these migrating high flyers. Warmer temperatures and lots of food sources along the way make it all worthwhile.
The play-it-safe guy at our house seems to have chosen to skip the trip and hope for the best: a balmy lower mainland forecast and enough food to make it through till spring. As I watch him sitting on the feeder and shiver in the cold, I can’t help but feel he has made a mistake in staying. He is missing out. Surely there is more to a hummingbird’s life than barely surviving.
I don’t want to stretch the analogy too far, but it makes me think of the story of the 12 spies sent to investigate the Promised Land. There were the 10 who wanted to play it safe and stay put while Joshua and Caleb were prepared to risk the greater journey. As it turned out, the risk-takers fared well and were blessed by God as they ultimately took the land; those who wanted to stay behind, not so much.
I’m not sure the little guy we’re feeding is going to make it. As it turns out, choices are important. For us humans, 2023 will be full of choices. Some of us will choose to play it safe while others will choose to take strong steps and accept the risks that come with them. Our resident hummingbird has me thinking forward and my cancer has me looking back. I think of times I have chosen the safe places and I know I have missed out and found instead the “lack” of winter. Fear, comfort, and a lack of faith have often played a part in my skipping the trip and staying put. And you?
Perhaps 2023 could be our year of stepping into the greater journey, turning aside comfort and fear, and instead increasing our faith for what God would accomplish in us and through us. What was it that God said to Joshua? “Be bold and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” We may discover that God’s best for us is on the other side of taking our first steps out of comfort, away from fear and into faith.