The minute mother was sitting quite still on her two-inch nest. The eight of us humans standing around her were also quite still. No, more attentive now, I could see that her head was moving ever so slightly back and forth. Alert. Ready.
I was so close to her that I could have reached out a hand and touched her. It didn’t occur to me, though. I was even closer to the seven people around me and not touching them either. No one made a sound.
We were all held in a single heart of wonder, gazing at this tiny hummingbird on her astoundingly skillful nest. It was soft, the Desert Museum having provided fluffy nesting material in this walk-in hummingbird aviary. The nest sat on a branch without obvious support. Only when I looked very closely could I see the filaments of spider web that reached in geometrical patterns from the nest itself downward to embrace the branch. How could anything so fine hold anything else? It did, though. She built it to do that. Mother Hummer knew exactly how.
Only when other folks arrived who wanted to see, too, did we move silently away.
Remembering those minutes, I am be-wondered again.
Abraham Heschel, the great Jewish mystic and philosopher, once said that if God asked him to give up everything except one thing, he would choose to keep wonder.
Wonder lives within us. It can be aroused by almost anything, since everything can display its own half-hidden miracles. The little hummer caught us up in heart-wonder. Later, I wanted to ask why. Was it the rarity of the experience? Was it because she was so tiny? Was it that we couldn’t imagine how she built her nest securely? Maybe all of those. But mostly, for me, it was that, in those moments, nothing existed for me except her and her nest.
When we look at, or listen to, anything—anyone—with such absorbed, conscious attention, wonder is the only possible response of the soul. It is the tenderness of the Universe. It is a tiny taste of Love, of Divine Source. I want to seek it often. My soul needs it.