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The other day I was in the yard sitting in a chair under a big oak tree reading a book and minding my own business. The noon day sun was hot and to shield my face I put on my old straw hat with the yellow artificial flowers.

I was deep into beautiful story about life and death and everything when I heard a soft thrumming, followed by a light vibration on my hat. Hmmm. This was followed by more thrumming and then the brim of the hat began to lightly bounce from the dancing of tiny feet. Was it a bird? A giant bee? I froze.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the darting form of a hummingbird circling above. Delight sped through me and in an instant I imagined the whole scenario that was being enacted. The little bird on its everlasting quest for nectar must have been attracted by the flowers on my hat.

A benediction of sorts spread through me and I became one of my favorite heroes, St. Francis. I mentally donned his plain brown robe (luckily, I was already wearing sandals) and turned my eyes heavenward. I raised one hand upward in a humble blessing while the other was held outward to provide a perch for passing swallows and small squirrels. I smiled benignly and beamed out kindly thoughts towards others.

I think it was the beaming that did it for a few seconds later the hummingbird was gone, perhaps wondering if artificial flowers were another consequence of global warming. And I was left slightly bemused which is like amused but without the punch line.

The thing about the story of St. Francis that I always responded to was that the animals had no fear of him; they felt safe in his presence. To be completely non-threatening, to be harmless, means that you have no fear within yourself. My St. Francis afternoon was delightful. If only for a moment something wild and untamed touched me.

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