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During the cold snap in January, I realized that the hummingbird food had frozen again. I went outside to replace it and noticed a hummingbird just sitting, seemingly frozen, perched on one of the little prongs of the feeder. Now, usually the hummingbirds I feed are fierce. They swirl around my head demanding new syrup and for me to move out of their way. They exert a force that, if bigger, would be scary. But this one did nothing as I moved closer.

I stood there. Not sure what to do. Do I shoo it away? Do I simply hope it moves when I reach out? Do I come back later hoping this bird is still alive?

As in most things we do these days, I decided to research online. According to the website Science, hummingbirds may appear “frozen” on a feeder, but they're using torpor to conserve energy. This article urges one to not disturb them as this is a natural behavior and allows them to save their energy.

With this, I decided to wait until the hummingbird flew off before replacing the feeder with fresh syrup (which happened about a half hour later).

So why tell you this small story of hummingbirds and me? I think there is some overlap between energy and torpor and what this all might mean for us as church together.

While not a perfect analogy, sometimes we can act like hummingbirds swirling and swooping, using lots of energy to do things. Sometimes we think that if we aren’t doing activities, or if other people aren’t doing activities, then we are failing as a church. It reminds me of a pastor saying to me at an event for Rostered Ministers, “Bishop, I feel that I have to attend everything that is planned. But, may I ask, is everything planned necessary?”

Perhaps we use energy up when it is not necessary.

Perhaps, like the hummingbird, we also need a time of torpor. Perhaps we need a “time out” time or a reflection time or a meditative time or just a time to inhale and exhale without worrying about the next event or program or activity. As theologian Richard Rohr puts it when describing centering prayer, “Prayer is simply sitting in silence, open to God's love and your love for God. This prayer is beyond thoughts, emotions, or sensations.”

Dear Beloveds in Christ, Lent is here. As we plan and attend the meaningful worship and fellowship that we all love during the season of Lent, I pray that in worship and in other ways you can find the space and openness to embrace the wonder of the Spirit.

For we can learn from hummingbirds – not that we are to eat one and a half to three times our body weight every day like a hummingbird – but instead, we are called to have a flow between busyness and stillness, action and reflection, hustling and torpor, acts and prayer.

I pray that as we follow Jesus, as we live in Jesus’ love, as we contemplate his words and actions, we may do the same.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

+ Bishop Shelley Bryan Wee