Little beings of summer fill our homes and gardens. Hummingbirds flutter, ladybugs surprise us, ants frustrate us, and our pet toad has returned for a fifth year after eight months of hibernation each year. She retreats to her rock in September and returns in May.
Like our cats and dogs, our habitat provides small support animals to watch and learn about day to day. We build relationships with them and even name them. They are therapeutic in that they provide comfort and security. And nature continues to teach us through its beauty.
We named our toad “Patience.” She sits royally in our window well where my husband built a small garden. Like her name, Patience sits peacefully for long hours by a stone that actually has the word “Patience” inscribed on it – a lesson for all of us.
In the spirit literature toads are a symbol of change and a reminder to pause and tread mindfully. She is female and makes little noise. It is the male toad that croaks loudly.
Thankfully our voice as women is heard loudly for our rights and freedom never to be silenced. Perhaps with time female toads will catch up and find their voice. The toad actually symbolizes the power of our words and to sing so we are heard.
Tilly is our hummingbird who has built her nest in a tree outside our living room window. Hummingbirds build their home near a fork in a branch.
I feel we often come to a fork in the road where we have the choice to travel inward to our home inside to find our way versus following the “shoulds” and expectations of the outside world. Tilly chooses the correct path home at nature’s fork.
Native American culture teaches that these are the tiniest birds in the world but mighty ones that travel long distances. They profess joy, sweet beauty and simplicity, and signify the bridge between what is in the present and what is beyond. She seems to have the ability to be still in flight.
How often we forget the importance of the pause in our busy lives. Tilly educates us about the developmental cycle of life. Her eggs are now the size of a navy bean and will hatch in 18 to 22 days. The process of attachment and separation will culminate in the next few weeks.
Tilly is an example of parent devotion. Her babies will be nurtured and held until they hopefully flutter and fly away two weeks after they hatch. I remember vividly those parking lot moments when our children walked away and in to their college dorm.
My weeping was a parent’s pain of separation, yet the joy of letting them launch. I know I have built an attachment to Tilly and will celebrate yet be saddened by the families leaving.
As these tiny birds signify healing and wisdom, I encourage my clients to look at negative thoughts and difficult feelings that fly in as fluttering hummingbirds.
They are just a calling to remember and turn toward them, and allow them to be seen. That embrace of our truth will foster movement through our challenges to come out the other side.
When it comes to the tiny black ants that seem to want to share our kitchen countertops, accepting and sharing our home with these creatures is a little more difficult. Our differences are accentuated, and I am reminded of the wisdom of Joan Halifax and the importance of both a strong back and soft front.
I may have compassion for these little creatures that are just hungry and want to survive. At the same time we can be strong and set boundaries and find ways to direct them outside as we search for their entry in to our home. Violence against them is not the way to ease our differences.
During challenging times, tiny creatures can provide such strength. There is something magical about the unfolding of life in our gardens, simplicity at its finest when we feel the painful grip of our complicated world.
Priscilla Dann-Courtney may be reached through her website: priscilladanncourtney.com.