A humming bird was in crisis today as it got caught inside my sun-drenched living room skylight. My husband and I enjoy watching this little fellow perform his acrobatics and feeding rituals from our dining room double window. This window is central to most of our viewing of the gorgeous North Georgia mountain grandeur that we call home. Around the corner from his feeder is my back deck which houses two sets of French doors with skylights running along the interior of the ceiling. Around the perimeter of the deck we have strategically located another hummingbird feeder that sets the traffic control pattern of birds in flight to refrain from dangerous situations and leaving their intended environment.
I love siting at my dining room table to write. This allows me to capture the dance of sunlight on the tree leaves, watch the growth of my herb gardens and, with one back doors open, to hear the bird songs, or the sounds of an approaching storm. Today was no different. I was reviewing some of my writings and noted in my mind the sound of what I assumed was another bee or horse fly hitting against the sky light.
I have this agreement with such insects that, as long as they stay away from me, and get out of the house before I close the doors for the evening, they will be spared; otherwise, I will discard of them. Today the noise was distracting me, so I went to get a drink and snack in the kitchen. There were several flying insects at the windows in the kitchen area and in my feelings of their nuisance I grab the swatter to end the current distracting noises. I turned to get back to my self-appointed designation at the dining room table, noting that in the well of the skylight, a small blob of black sat with fanned feathers. The hummingbird was inside.
My mind raced as I was trying to calculate how much time may have passed since first hearing this captured creature’s distress. I recalled the video we watched just a few weeks ago that explained the feeding needs of the humming bird due to it rapid heart beat burning energy in comparison to it’s size. I do not remember all the exact information, but, I did remember that they need to feed every 15 minutes during the day to survive. These components put me into crisis care mode. This poor baby needed to eat, NOW!
I ran to get the feeder from the back porch in hopes that he would come down from his partial captivity to eat. His focus remained on the light in the window and not the fact that he could still get away. He was out of his own environment and not able to access the sugary syrup that would sustain his life. I cooed and pleaded verbally with the little fellow amongst inter-mitten pleas for God to show the baby how to get to freedom. I did not doubt that God could direct my little bird, but the frantic attempts to fly resulting in hitting the wall-sides confirmed a need of intervention from me. The only way to reach him was to use some form of long handle apparatus to help swoop him towards the open door and his freedom. Freedom would allow him to move towards the needed sustenance.
First, I grabbed my straw-woven broom from the hall closet. The handle was not long enough to reach the window well. I was concerned that the broom would be to harsh and hard damaging the delicate body and feathers. In the return of the broom I spotted the large, soft, dusting ball with extended handle. Extending the handle to its fullest capacity, I slowly tried to put the ball above the bird to prevent it from going to the upper corners guiding it closer to the bottom of the window and out the open door. I was sure once it got out the door it would automatically go for its food.
The little mite got stuck in the dust-ball so I carefully brought the extended handle down. Before getting to the open door, the exhausted bird fell onto the floor beneath a closed door. His limp body lay with his beak jetted up to the door preventing my opening the door for release. I brought the food container towards his sword-like beak, but he was too worn to move. I dumped some red liquid nourishment on the floor hoping he would not have to work to hard to get some.
The little body slumped-over and I was sure this poor baby was going to die right in my house with freedom not even an inch away. I grabbed a pair of soft socks off the sofa for my hands to protect us both. I could not get a grasp of this tiny life. The body and beak combined were not even the length of my palm. Again, I used the dusting ball. Sheltered in the embrace of the soft blue tentacles of the ball, I was able to carry him to his feeder. Once positioned so that his beak would insert the fake flower that provided the life-sustaining fluid, I was visibly able to see evidence of swallowing. Little eye lids fluttered, and the sun revealed the green flecks and golden hues of the coat he wore. I tried to get him dislodged and standing on his own. The body just lay on the feeder with legs curled up. Patiently I stood supporting the body as I watched the slow intake of food.
After a few short minutes I went forward with my hand to ensure that he was not ensnared in the very thing that brought him to freedom. With a flash, he was gone. This moment does not guarantee that I will see this tender life form again. I may not know if the experience has traumatized him to the point of no return, or if his legs were damaged preventing full function or if he had just enough food to fly to a resting place to die.
I never experienced this form of rescue before. Other than a few details about the bird, I really did not have the proper training or tools to meet this crisis need without potential harm. The little I did know, eating every 15 minutes, could have caused panic in me to do whatever necessary to save “the poor thing”. My desire to, “do no harm” trumped my reaction into planned strategy of assessing and accessing my resources.
My heart is sadden when I think about the young fragile hummingbird that is caught in the window-well of the church sanctuary that casts forth the Son-beams of the Father. The tender heart that wrestles with mental-health dynamics craves the light and love of acceptance; To belong without prejudices and misperceptions of the group they try to invade. Well-meaning people know enough that this person needs fed, and, in zeal, put forth their own understanding and perceptions of how this person needs rescued from their ‘demons’.
Without proper training and tools this individual may be guided into the corner depths of the church steeple, away from life sustaining care. Verbal opinions of “trusting or faith” in God for healing or descriptions of alternative approaches to healing may be a bonging echo hitting against the inner top of the bell cymbal in the tower. The affect has the potential of a dizzying stumble into traumatizing crisis.
This manifested crisis response will probably be exhibited in the home or other family function area; An area where parishioners may never dare to go, confirming the erratic or trauma responses from family or close friends. Diminished behaviors are see not trusting in God enough. There is no understanding that certain organic processes tap into mental function areas that provoke certain negative behaviors.
Declarations of ‘being available’ if ever anything is needed fall flat when the real need is not identified and acknowledged. Certain boundary areas, like my extended handle dust-ball, need established to help engulf this individual, bringing to safety. The reality of past experiences may cause this devastated individual to cower in defeat at your feet, too weak to utilize the help presented in front of them. There are times that the person is so weak that they are literally unable to accept the offer of help and may need carried and positioned to get the sustenance they need to give them strength.
Personally, handling the situation alone could destroy any chance of getting this wounded soul to the life-giving nourishment. Worse yet is false promises of good intentions. I hate to confess my shattered expectations for follow through, in expressed integration, of those who have a standing in the already confirmed group and the one desperate to be viewed normal.
On more than one occasion, across several congregations, I witnessed heart wrenching rejection of a client, as we walked through a park or food court at the mall. In wide open-view, members of a declaring group, would be fellowshipping in fun and laughter. My breath still catches and my heart stings. Invitations had gone forth to bring the group to the one desiring to share in reciprocal relationship, yet the invitation would go without acknowledgement of its existence.
I think of the example of Jesus in the book of Mathew in the Bible. Jesus modeled going to the home of those He knew would benefit from the healing balm of relationship. (Matthew 9:9, Luke 19:5) I have even heard pastors declare from the pulpit, “Do not worry, we are not going to come to your house,” or “We do not get involved if there is (continual) crisis situations going on in your home.” O MY GOD! Come to our rescue (Psalms 59:1, Ps 7:1,) Give us the courage to love the way you love.
Jesus went to the people in their time of crisis need. He did not react in crisis mode, rearranging his momentary commitments, but, He did go. He cried with his friends, He prayed and encouraged those suffering in a loss, and he met their basic human needs (food).
I am curious to think back and see when the shift in thinking morphed from taking a loaf of bread to a neighbor, a card was sent in the mail, or a drop by for a cup of coffee, sometimes just to keep a connection. The paradigm shift thought had become: If they really need help let them come and ask, people want their privacy, there are programs in the community that can meet that need. The priority of ‘my’ time needs to be used elsewhere, has become our belief.
Persons who are in a time of crisis or who wrestle with mental health may not know what they need, in the moment. Many are fearful of large groups or being away from the safety of their own home. Trust is often an issue. Small steps learning to trust can come through one-on-one or small group interaction in the persons home, sharing a hobby or meal together and a heart to learn and grow together in a mutual relationship. The ability to see and accept the value of the other person and what they can contribute to the relationship is paramount. Yes, there is vulnerability in relationship but there is also safety.
Safety equates: the freedom to be who you are without limitations, expectations and judgement; a place to belong; a place to give-back; a place to explore new-ideas and thoughts; a place to be accountable, and a place to love and be loved. Group involvement helps bring a balanced experience and safety-net in exploring and accessing resources for the one in need.
How will your (inner) group respond, when trauma is evident in your church?
Note: I have witnessed some great mentor models of team supports in churches that help those in places of great need emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and financially. Persons with more intense and comprehensive situations can be draining on one individual to carry. A team effort makes the experience richer and specialized for specific components of need. It brings the person into a family.
Another thought is for a representative from the faith-community to be present and involved with any systems of care team that support the person through mental health or other community initiatives. This allows those that desire to help in the faith community understand the scope of need and potential treatment methods to be unified in approach versus combative views that may cause the person with mental health issues to become more confused and digress in their recovery.