God’s Sense of Humour
Sr Aileen Murphy is a La Retraite sister well-known for her own great sense of humour. In the article below she describes how on one occasion the last laugh was with God!!
In June 2010, a friend and I visited Weston Priory, Vermont. We had decided to take a few days to re-read a year of studies and pray our goodbyes to the group and course experience. Travelling to the monastery, we passed so many signs warning of moose on the roads that I was sure I would be gifted with a sighting. I was on the alert, camera ready.
Entering these transition days I asked the Lord for a symbol to journey home with me. The liturgies were simple and peaceful and I appreciated the spaciousness of the surrounding countryside. Walking the wet woods in the rain was reminiscent of, and preparatory for coming home to Ireland! I decided on a final walk, still eagerly expectant of glimpsing a moose. Alas no joy, so I returned slowly to the chapel. As I contemplated the rustic view by the door, I became aware of a small bird on its back. Its heart was beating rapidly, visibly in distress. Thinking the little bird was dying, I knelt down and picked it up gently to hold it in its final moments. At my touch, it somehow managed to turn and rested on my finger tips. With a sense of awe I recognised it as a hummingbird. Wow! So beautiful, so tiny. After ten minutes or so my knees were giving up, so I moved to a sitting position and as I did so, the little bird took to the air. It wasn’t dying, it was a fledgling. I watched it soar and then with a mighty thump it crashed into a window. I watched anxiously, wanting to check on it and yet not wanting to trespass into the private community grounds. It slumped to the windowsill and lay there unmoving, its neck at a funny angle. Grief rose in me. I waited in hope but there was no movement. The bells rang for None and I entered the chapel reluctantly. I sat pondering this mystery of having held a hummingbird, trying to make sense of this encounter. And in it I came to realise that all life is a gift from God. I am a creature, not the creator. And the lesson is to hold all experiences gently, with an open hand before the Lord. There was a sense of peace in that and I was grateful for those insights.
Exiting the chapel I went straight to the window to see my little friend. It was still there, crumpled. As I shared the story with others, we watched the hummingbird move its head from side to side. Incredulous, I gasped as it took wing again and flew into the forest. What seemed like death was not death at all. And in that, I knew that my leave-taking was a resurrection experience. Under the emotions was a new level of knowing. Travelling back the mountain roads, I passed the same signs warning of local wildlife: moose and schoolchildren crossing. I had to laugh at my giant expectations and God’s sense of humour: I wanted a moose and God gave me a hummingbird to hold.
PONDERPOINT: Do I realise the gift that God is offering me in the experience I now hold?