Thursday, June 6, 2013


It's summer and my thoughts turn to...Barbecues? Family vacations? No: one of my favorite activities. Getting away from people.

Thus, I'm in Palm Springs (90 miles west of LA) for the week. Outside the sliding glass doors to the pool is a cactus, and affixed to the top of it is a hummingbird nest, complete with hummingbird!

I have never seen a hummingbird sit still before and I assure you, it is thrilling. It must be a female and she must be sitting on eggs. I feel quite sure God has sent me here so she, the bird, can guard me.

I at once turned off the A/C, cranked open the windows, and made a large batch of sun tea. Morning Mass is at 7:30. Around vespers, I take a long walk through old Las Palmas. There is no shortage of alkies and addicts with whom to gather for an hour. In between I write, pray, dangle my feet in the pool.

From August 6 through 11th I'll be on retreat at the Redwoods Monastery way up in Whitethorn, California, on the Lost Coast.

I'll drive, so it'll be a road trip and an adventure.


  1. Dear Heather, I just read your "The Sacred Heart of Jesus" in Magnificat. While you are being protected by a nesting hummingbird, a ten-story brick building of beauty has crushed my heart.

  2. I just read your article in the Magnificat this morning too. After finishing it, I was so touched I had to put the little book down and let your words seep inside.
    Thank you for a great start to a great feast day. I will enjoy following your posts!

  3. I too read in Magnificat this morning and enjoyed your words on the "Sacred Heart" so wonderful and healing so I found your site today. The hummingbird is so cool! God bless you!

  4. I must chime in and add my gratitude for your amazingly, achingly beautiful piece "The Sacred Heart of Jesus" in the Magnificat. I passed it around to my family to read as we were praying before mass last Sunday.
    I found it particularly meaningful as I celebrate 21 years of sobriety and am ever praying for all of the "alkies and addicts". Blessings!

  5. Yay for 21 years of sobriety, Jodi, and thank you all so much for your kinds words re the Sacred Heart of Jesus piece. I hadn't read it in awhile and cried myself! I just saw Barry the other day, a cigarette behind his ear, prowling the crowd outside the 99-cent store for spare change...

    Speaking of the Sacred Heart of Jesus--the hummingbird! I scoured the internet yesterday trying to figure out what kind and Costa was the best I could come up with (corroborated by new friend whose husband is an ornithology professor), through process of elimination. As I just wrote her, "This morning I found an extension ladder in the garage, climbed up when she was gone, used a mirror and saw two tiny wet-looking chicks in the bottom of the nest! It was so thrilling I could hardly breathe and I also sort of felt I was intruding on sacred space--the mother was watching from a telephone wire and I don't want to scare any of them so won't look again, but I can know see a teeny head poking up now and again. The nest is maybe 7 feet from where I'm working, on the other side of the glass slider, so I can survey the scene at all times...she is actually amazingly non-skittish and stays put most of the time if I go in and out quietly and slowly. Already I started thinking, What if she (the mother) dies while I'm here! Hummingbirds have a life span of 3-4 years so that's good. Attachment disorder, anyone?"...

    Next up: pix of the pool at night. Most people winter in Palm Springs. I'm summering here...

  6. Heather, during my last retreat to The Hermitage in Three Rivers, I was sitting on a ledge beside the window of the 5th floor of an old restored barn, looking down upon the gardens and out to the fields and forests, trying to determine which wanted my presence more. Suddenly a hummingbird appeared at the lookout window, directly in front of me! It stayed for several minutes, inches away from my face, with only glass separating us. It was glorious. And I didn't even laugh at your "Attachment disorder, anyone?" comment because I understand... when my own little hummingbird (I probably ought not act as though I own him, huh?) flew away finally I waited a long while for him to return.

  7. Hi Heather: Wow!! First I read your meditation yesterday morning on the Sacred Heart and almost couldn't bear the pain and beauty of the piece. I read it over and over and shared it with many at Mass (those who did not have Magnificat). Today I read it again and then again. It just tore my heart up and I think the reason why is because it reminded me once again of the truth of the real world. The Barrys of the world remind us that Jesus walks among us. I ask the Lord each day to let me see Jesus in everyone I meet and also to allow me to be Jesus to all I meet. How timely this piece is, and as usual, Heather, you astonish us and bring us to our knees where we should be more! These are good tears! Thanks you so much. Your radical approach to life and your Catholicism is often astounding, but speaking for myself only I must say I need the jolt; I need your real approach to things that I might think but never say out loud. You help me put all of it into words. My devotion to the Sacred Heart is very strong and I found it profound that this feast fell on First Friday. Adoration was so sacred!

    I keep a hummingbird feeder and cannot wait for the hummingbirds to come each year. This year they were early with "Mr. Keeper of the Feeder" appearing in March. They usually come end of April. I put the feeder out and he/she continued to come and drink and drink, and then there were two, then probably 20. He shares only with whom he wants. There is alway one who is the keeper; he's a fighter and a fierce warrior when it comes to that feeder. Last year I was privileged also to witness a nest. Tiniest nest I've ever seen, in our pear tree way up high! I never got the nerve to get the ladder and I missed their first flight out. Mom was very diligent and she allowed me to stand at the foot of the tree and look at the nest. They swoop my husband and I on the porch in the evenings and they are just such loads of fun to watch. When one lands on a branch and is still, I am thrilled each time. Very sacred moments with the hummingbirds. During the last hurricane here (Texas), there were hundreds of hummingbirds at the feeders (mine and our neighbors) as the winds approached. They were all in a frenzy but eating, perhaps to fill their tiny tummies in preparation for the storm. It happens every year there is a hurricane or a very bad storm. We have to fill the feeders over and over again for hours. Suddenly, they disappear, the storm comes and we are back to normal.

    I feel I am rambling; forgive me. I'm just filled with joy today over this post. May the Lord bless and keep you, Heather, and may His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Be blessed in Palm Springs. It is sooooo beautiful there.

  8. I know this is an older post but I was intrigued by your hummingbird story. I think this bird actually was your guardian. Well either that or just a friend. :) There was a hummingbird who made a nest in a ficus tree on my front porch several years ago. I love to watch birds and this little hummingbird and her babies gave me hours of enjoyment. She became accustomed to seeing me sitting in my chair on the front porch so went about her twittering without paying much mind to me. Funny thing though, one day my sister who is afraid of birds came over and I convinced her to sit with me on the porch and watch the hummingbirds antics, assuring her that the bird was friendly. My sister no sooner sat down in the chair next to me when this bird became aggressive and dive bombed right into my sisters head! She screamed, got up and made a run for the front door with the little bird close behind. I don't know what caused the bird to react like that but it evidently did not choose to be my sisters friend and my sister dislikes birds even more now. It was actually pretty funny! :P



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