Harriet and humanity

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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I grew up in a house with a row of big windows lining the living room wall. 

It seemed like every season, we’d lose a few birds because they would fly straight into the windows. But every once in a while, my mom and I would find a bird, lonely, sitting on our back deck, too injured to fly.

Within the hour, we would nurse it back to health by rubbing its wings, cleaning its eyes or letting it just rest in the palms of our hands. 

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Fast forward to years later. 

All last Saturday, a hummingbird was trapped in our garage, exhausted and dangerously dehydrated. After trying to capture it and leaving the windows open for an easy escape, my mom’s tactics did not work, and the bird spent the night in the garage.

My mom woke up on Sunday morning only to find it near-death, lying in the corner.

I held it in my hands, brought the hummingbird feeder to the porch, and let it rest for a long while as it re-energized on sugar water.

Harriet (I named her) stayed perched in a flower pot all morning, and upon my last check-up on her, she flew away. She shot straight into the sky and didn’t come back.

Dear diary: It’s important to be gentle to animals, and like we should be to animals, it’s important to be like that to humans. 

I was just telling my two close friends that, yes, it’s good to pray for things like gentleness, patience and self-control. But if we prayed to simply be like Jesus, all the bases would be covered.

Let me be more specific: If––in every situation––we asked ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” then we would always know the right thing to do.

The right choice is to help the small and delicate bird survive in her vulnerable time. 

The right choice is to pay for the person’s lunch in front of you when they realize they don’t have their card on them.

The right thing to do, always, is to invite the wallflower out, sleep for one less hour to talk to your friend about her break-up, and sacrifice being in the heat for a moment longer just to help someone unload their groceries into their car.

There’s a worship song I like to sing, and the lyrics go something like, “For once You have spoken, all nature and science follow the sound of Your voice. And as you speak, a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath.”

It’s just a small poetic gesture that touches on how important His creatures are. 

I find bumblebees on the sidewalks, cold from the night before, barely moving. I pick them up. I place them in my hand. I lay them in the flowerpot. Just like the hummingbird.

Harriet, like humanity, deserves kindness.

The right choice, always, is to ask what that creature’s Creator would do.