by Patricia Rose Upczak
The hummingbird is one of the smallest birds in the world, and yet it is apparently fearless, or better said filled with courage. There are tales of the female hummingbird chasing off eagles that come too close to her nest. The hummingbird in most cultures symbolizes joy,
happiness and accomplishment.
Courage, I believe, comes from being your authentic self, whether you are a colorful hummingbird or a human being. The heroes in my life all have that trait in common. Often they are humble, kind, and dedicated to living their lives with
integrity. Courage comes naturally, it isn't something someone can teach a person or animal. It also doesn't necessarily mean that the person isn't afraid of anything. It just means that they keep on going anyway, even though they might be afraid of the future or whatever
danger lies in front of them.
Beings in all walks of life display courage. A few famous examples are people like Galileo, Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Galileo was a fascinating Italian scientist born February 15, 1564. He was
different from many of his peers. His family wanted him to go into medicine, but his true passion was mathematics and science. His theories and inventions are numerous. He became very interested in Copernicus's theories that the planets, including the earth revolved around
the sun, not the sun revolving around the earth as the Catholic Church taught at that time. He was warned by Church officials to stop talking about the heliocentric theory. He agreed to stop talking about it. Instead he wrote a book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World
Systems, that discussed in detail why he thought Copernicus was right. In 1633 the Inquisition
convicted him of heresy and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Because of his age at the time he was sent into exile to his home in Florence where he died years later, disgraced because of his courage to tell the truth. Over 350 years later the Church forgave him and Pope
Paul VI cleared his name.
Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1809. He studied law in England, even though his mother wanted him to stay home in India. He was brilliant and was thought to have a great future. One fateful day
he was ordered into a lower class part of the train even though he had a first class ticket. He was outraged and refused to comply. The police were called and much to his surprise
he and his belongings were thrown off the train. That day was the first step of a very courageous life and battle to change prejudices and the bondage of his people. He actively pursued independence for the Indian people in a peaceful, nonviolent way even though he was
jailed, threatened and harassed most of his life as he pursued his goals determinedly.
Mother Teresa was born in a well to do family on August 27, 1910. She taught in a Catholic school in Calcutta from 1921-1948. The suffering and poverty outside the convent walls made a deep impression on her. She asked to leave the school so she could devote herself to
working among the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She had no funds, but took a leap of faith anyway trusting
that somehow everything would work out. In 1950 she received permission to start her own order, The Missionaries of Charity, whose primary task was to love and care for persons nobody was prepared to look after. Many well meaning people tried to dissuade Mother Teresa from
her "impossible goal" as being too hard for one small woman. Yet her intuition guided her through incredibly difficult times. Her quiet courage and gentle smile spread love and light everywhere she went. By 1990 there were over one million people working one capacity or other
with the Missionaries of Charity throughout the world in over 40 countries. They take care of shut-ins, the homeless and AIDS sufferers all because of one person's courage.
Courage is often displayed by ordinary people faced
with extraordinary circumstances that require strength of character and action from them. As you look at their lives you realize that they just made the choice to do what they thought they had to do in the present moment. We all have examples of people living seemingly
ordinary lives who because they are their authentic selves make a difference. Their courage may go unnoticed by the news media, and yet they raise the vibration of this planet daily just by their existence.
You see these people
in all walks of life, teachers, nurses, waitresses, bus drivers, engineers, writers, artists, contractors, mothers, fathers, grandparents, hospice workers all living dial lives courageously one day at a time facing all of the life situations that require strength, courage and
Generally we think of the amazing, fearless acts of the rescue crews who save people in floods, hurricanes, fires, or earthquakes. And yet when these men and women are interviewed most of them tell us they are just doing
their jobs. Often what goes unnoticed is the courage it takes to face illness, death, divorce or some great loss emotionally or physically with compassion, composure, strength and love. And yet all of these types of courage are equal ins strength and power. One of the most
common bonds we have here on earth is the ability to connect, encourage and help each other through trying times.
Being honest and doing what you feel you have to do or say takes strength of mind and heart. Our world is filled
with people who do that all the time. The reason I mentioned the hummingbird is because of its symbolic significance. It stands for joy, love and happiness. The people I am most in awe of are those who face intense, overwhelming challenges with a smile. Somehow they always
seem to be more interested in how they can help or be of service then dwelling on their own personal problems. The type of people that come to mind is the sweet homeless woman who I see smile at everyone who drives by her, whether they give her money or not. Or the little
girl in our local hospital who has terminal cancer and paints pictures to cheer the other sick children up.
Years ago my aunt died, and I had to clean out a large storage unit of my family's belongings. It was hard for me, there were so many memories and treasures in those boxes. I had called a charity organization to pick up some of the
furniture. One of the men stands out in my memory. He was in his middle to late seventies, and had an energy about him that was remarkable. Somehow we
started talking and the conversation got around to how he started helping this charity. He especially liked going out to help pick up estate furniture. What it boiled down to was that he was alone and knew ho the death of a loved one affected people. So he decided he would be
the right kind of person to talk to grieving families, since he had experienced so much death in his life. To me
not only was this man courageous, but very wise to turn his sorrow into a lifetime of service.
Many people are concerned with appearances or what other people think of them. Often times their behavior is governed by what others
say or think. They are afraid to stand out as different from their social group. Teenagers especially can be controlled by peer pressure. Authentic people are true to themselves. Societies throughout time have sought to control their members through dogma, rules and fear.
There are the "right" people to befriend, fall in love with and marry. There are books that should be banned because they do not agree with the current thought of the times, or make the group in power uncomfortable in some way. There are people who should be silenced like
Galileo and Gandhi because their observations make some people angry, uncomfortable and insecure. Luckily for all of us these types of people are everywhere in one form or another and will be throughout time. I came across a wonderful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I would
like to close with, "When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away timid adventurers."
©Copyright 2006 Patricia Rose Upczak. All Rights Reserved.
Patricia Rose Upczak
is a Reiki Master, speaker, author and teacher. She worked in the public school system with learning disable teenagers. She has been involved in the healing arts since 1985. The insight she provides comes from a person with life experience, compassion, and understanding. She
is dedicated to helping others on this wonderful journey we call life. She is currently working on a metaphysical mystery for children/ young adults. THE MYSTERY OF DEVIL'S GULCH will be out in the fall of 2006. She is also the author of SYNCHRONICITY, SIGNS & SYMBOLS ; REIKI
A WAY OF LIFE ; and STEVE. All are available in bookstores, on Amazon.com or by calling 1-800-929-7889. For more information please visit : www.csd.net/~synchron.