A few days ago, I began writing this verrrrrry heartfelt piece about [retracted, because you’ll read it soon enough]. I had no doubt I’d finish it up in time to send it out to you this week.
I was wrong.
I don’t often do this, but I had to push its publishing date back a week to get the piece just right. Because I hate to miss a week with you, I’ve decided, instead, to tell you about this wild thing that took place a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what happened:
Not long ago, my husband and I began hosting a weekly small group in our home. I’ve told you about it before. (You’ll be pleased to know I’m growing increasingly better at letting them see my messes!) It is a really sweet community of 8-10 people who are committed to gathering each week, eating (because, of course), and sharing life together.
One of the group’s members recently lost her husband far too young. His illness moved swiftly, cutting their marriage so short that it had barely even begun. I’m so grateful she chooses to be with us, even while still processing the thickness of her grief. To me, she’s a really stunning example of strength and faith in the midst of painful trials.
At the first group meeting in our home, she had shared a little bit about her circumstance and grieving process. Hearing her share so vulnerably with us—people she had just met—made it feel like we were on holy ground. It was a gift to be invited into her world.
The following afternoon, I was sitting in our guest bedroom, looking out the window. It’s something I do relatively often, but this time was different. Right away, I noticed a hummingbird walking on the sidewalk that leads up to our front door. It struck me immediately. I had never seen a hummingbird wandering our sidewalks, and I thought it odd that there was no feeder in sight. Do hummingbirds take walks along the sidewalk very often? I don’t know! As I was watching the wandering hummingbird, my mind went to the woman in our small group who just lost her husband.
One week later, at our second small group meeting, we all gathered once again to eat and share life together. (These are a few of my favorite things.) At the end of the meeting, I approached the woman I’d been thinking about so strongly while watching the wandering hummingbird.
“This might sound strange,” I began, “but is there an animal that sort of represents or reminds you of your late husband?”
Without skipping a beat, she smiled and said, “A hummingbird!”
She went on to share how meaningful hummingbirds had been throughout the last days of her husband’s life. She has been longing to see one since he passed away, and while she didn’t get to see the one sauntering outside of my home, I can tell her it was certainly there.
I hadn’t known her husband and I hardly know her, but one day after she’s in my home for the first time, I get to experience with her this message that speaks to the hope of life after death. That hummingbird offers her some tangible presence of her husband; it’s a little gift from God saying, “Hey! I’m here. We’re here. You’re not alone.” It’s a reminder that encourages her own life after death. Keep living! We’re here with you!
No, I do not believe her husband is the hummingbird. It’s simply a way his spirit is represented here on earth to those who knew him best. Meanwhile, he’s already basking in the glory of eternal life, free from pain or disease. The hummingbird is like the hug & hello to her from Heaven.
God knows what we need in our grief; He knows that my new friend has a deep connection with her husband through the sight of a hummingbird. So, He peppers them throughout her world. She isn’t flooded with them but, every once in a while, maybe in the most unexpected places, she’ll get a sauntering or an eating or a dancing hummingbird. Because God is in our grief, and God is in the details—even in the tiny frame of a sidewalk hummingbird.
*This story is being shared with permission from the woman I refer to throughout the piece.