Fountains of Joy
I bought a fountain from a friend of mine for my meditation sanctuary. It is of four Buddha heads. It is beautiful but the water in it evaporates quickly and I have to fill it every day. Ever since I bought it, I have wondered if I should even bother with it. It felt wasteful and indulgent. Did I really need a fountain going every day?
I got my answer last week...
I was sitting on my cushion outside, meditating. I always hear the birds singing and occasionally I see one enter the space, tentative about my posture and presence. But they come and flit about, bouncing on the ground. Sometimes the hummingbirds dive and zoom about, never really visible, they more of an auditory presence.
My awareness is on the breath so I am not really looking around. But I can see them in my periphery, feel them, hear them as their lives intersect with mine.
Last week, as I was sitting there, counting my breaths, I felt a stillness, a presence of another in my space. It was so strong that I pulled up my eyes from their meditative gaze and looked around. And there was a hummingbird, sitting on my fountain. Drinking the crystalline water, and bathing in the drink. It enjoyed the water for a few minutes, and I sat there entranced by its joy and relative stillness. I watched it drink and bathe and sit quietly and relish in the cool water that nourished it.
Then, just like it came, it was gone. Zooming off for a drink and bath of nectar I am sure.
And I was left alone in the space with the flowing water, the water that I previously thought was wasteful and an effort towards no end. I was wrong. I knew in that moment that I would fill the fountain every day. I would fill it and clean it and enjoy it and relish it...because that hummingbird taught me how. It showed me the way. It showed me how to have joy in the quiet morning light with nothing but a fountain and sky.
Now the fountain is the beneficiary of my daily ministrations. I attend to its needs, cleaning, re-filling and appreciating all efforts in the hopes that one day, the hummingbird will return to find a drink and a bath. For it was the bird that gave me a purpose for a purchase that I made hastily and without much thought. Just another accouterment to my already pregnant life. My life filled with things and beings. Until that day, I never knew how much purpose it could have, the things I acquire. Purpose for someone other than myself. Purpose for a little bird on its way to whatever is next.
Bearing witness to the moment I shared with the hummingbird changed me. I sat transfixed to my cushion, watching, peering into the life of a creature that I resemble often but do not understand. That moment I saw that even the busy hummingbird stops. Even the hummingbird relents and takes a momentary pleasure and sits waiting for the next moment. A drink, a bath and a sit. Providing stillness in an ever un-still life.
And I related. I saw myself in that little bird. Flying from here to there and back again, too busy to ever really land. Too busy for a drink and a bath. Always moving, flitting about, living life on fast forward.
But last week I found out something that I didn’t know until I saw, that even the busy life of a hummingbird stops to enjoy a beautiful fountain sometimes when there is water and purpose to be found there. And I realized that my job is to fill the fountain, ensure every day that it is flowing, free of debris and dirt. The best use of my time and efforts to provide a place where the hummingbird can take solace from the hard pounding, high flying days. And to sit in the sun, enjoying the water while it catches its breath.
And I got to know that the fountain is a source of joy, for me, for hummingbirds and who knows what else visits when I am not there...and perhaps that is the purpose of fountains, to bubble up joy to all who can and will take the time to enjoy.