By Kristy Walker, Minnesota

Harold Klemp writes, in ECK Essentials, that patience “is the greatest discipline of all the spiritual works of ECK.  By patience you can endure life, hardships, karmic burdens, slander, and the pricks of pain and disease.”

After reading this I wondered, How can I develop more patience?

While I was at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a hummingbird unexpectedly appeared to me. I had my camera but not the proper lens for taking the best photo. I took a few shots but decided to go home to get a better lens and my tripod. I wondered if the hummingbird would still be there when I returned.

Sure enough, this tiny ruby-throated hummingbird stayed where I first saw her. She would be there for several months. And she had much to teach me.

The biggest lesson was patience! Other photographers would come and would be surprised that they weren’t able to get the shot they wanted, but I knew the secret that the little hummingbird revealed to me. Be still, perhaps for hours. Find contentment. Rest in the moment.

Wisdom from a Hummingbird

Others might not get the camera shots of birds that they want because they don’t take the time to wait. To photograph the hummingbird, I spent eight to ten hours each day, five to six days a week, for two months, or basically as long as there was light and the Arboretum was open. Over time she rewarded me by letting me enter more into her world.

I knew she was aware of my presence because of her visual contact with me. While I stayed at our spot in the Arboretum for hours on end, she kept coming to nearby flowers. She’d sit on a flower stem, preen her feathers, and sometimes even take a nap. North American hummingbirds can move their wings, on average, about fifty-three times per second. Funny to think that such a fast-moving creature can teach a human to slow down.

When I had patience, she always brought a gift that delighted me. Sometimes her gift would be a view of her open wings. Although not visible with the naked eye, through my camera lens I could see each feather in her wings.

Other times she would be poised in midair with sunlight pouring through her wings.

She’d feed on the nectar in flowers, rest in a tree, or preen herself.

During our time together, the little hummingbird revealed her secrets.

The Gift of Patience

In the teachings of ECK patience is defined as “enduring with calmness and self-control with the mind steadfast upon the Light of God.” Calmness came more easily in my photography sessions when I kept my attention upon the Light of God, a manifestation of God’s love for us. While photographing, I silently chanted HU, the ancient love song to God.

Patience began to feel as familiar as welcoming an old friend. I noticed patience helping me to develop a deeper trust in life. My priorities changed when patience took the lead. I discovered that it didn’t really matter if I got a great camera shot or not. I simply enjoyed being in nature. The presence of this precious Soul, this sweet hummingbird, helped me feel closer to God.

As I stood with my tripod, staring into the garden filled with dahlias and salvia, people stopped by and asked what I was taking pictures of. It was not apparent to them that I was waiting for the hummingbird. To my surprise and delight, almost everyone had a story to tell about hummingbirds. Each time they’d sighted one, the presence of a hummingbird brought them joy and excitement. They seemed to know it was a special sign of the ever-present love that surrounds us all.

We might forget that love is everywhere until a messenger, such as a hummingbird, comes along to remind us. The Mahanta is teaching me patience with the hummingbird as his messenger. I’ve learned, with the help of a hummingbird, that if we want more of God’s love, patience is a key.

—Photos by Kristy Walker