Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
~ Emily Dickinson
Since moving into our new apartment, we have been visited by a number of different birds. Our first visit was an owl that Mo and I watched every night for a week shortly after we moved in. The next visitors were peadoves and finches which like to snack on the leftover seeds our neighbor's parakeets scatter on their balcony. The doves and finches love to bring the seeds over to our balcony, however, to eat them. (They also love the crumbs that are sometimes left behind from our own meals.) Occasionally one of the little finches will get brave and hop through the rails of our balcony gate and into our living room. One of our most spectacular visitors was a hawk which perched on the rail of our balcony to eat its lunch. This bird was immense and its gaze intoxicating (not to mention intimidating). One of the most ominous visitors was a peadove that got trapped in our bedroom right before my dad died. After his death, however, we woke up to greet one of our most beautiful visitors, a hummingbird which was flying around the ceiling above us.
So, what do all of these visits from birds mean? Throughout literature, folklore and mythology, birds are considered to be the messengers of the Divine. They inhabit that sacred space between Heaven and Earth that we humans can only dream of going. Some believe that birds come to carry the souls from this world into the next world and offer a kind of peace or sanctuary to the person making the transition.
There are many stories just within my own family about birds and the afterlife. My mom's brother spoke of birds sitting all around his hospital room before he died from diabetes. A white dove was lying beside the road my sister traveled on her way to class before our grandmother died. Then dozens of robins filled my sister's snowy yard one January before our grandfather died. Right after his death, a brilliant red cardinal moved in to my parents' back yard and lives there still. There was the trapped peadove mentioned above and then following my dad's memorial service another peadove appeared on my sister's car where it was noticed first by my nephew. While I was in Pennsylvania for my dad's service, Mo was at his parents' house where he said a hummingbird kept his company following him about the yard.
While I have gotten used to our apartment turned aviary, I have to admit that my most recent encounter with a bird shook me to my core. Earlier today I was working in my upstairs studio (which is actually the walk in closet in my bedroom) while Shine watched videos on the computer and Song took a nap. I was engrossed in painting when I heard the familiar flapping of wings. I stepped out of the studio and into the bedroom where I saw a tiny gray bird flying around the ceiling fan. It then swooped towards me, flying into the wall between my studio and the bathroom. Then it tumbled down the wall and landed behind a clothes basket. I immediately moved the basket away from the wall to retrieve the bird but it was GONE...as in disappeared...as in vanished...as in not there. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I emptied the basket while calling out, "Dad, Dad, is that you? Where did you go?" Because my immediate thought was that it had to be my dad coming to visit. And then the more I searched the bathroom, my studio, the other clothes basket, the rest of the bedroom, I thought this really must be an encountered with the Divine because there was no trace of a bird...anywhere.
Is it possible I imagined it? I suppose it's possible. But I'm sure I didn't. And just to confirm my belief that something otherworldly happened today, I found a teeny tiny little feather on the floor of the bathroom this evening when I was giving Song her bath. And we were in the downstairs bathroom which to my knowledge has never had a winged visitor...
|The dove on my sister's car.|
When was your last encounter with the Divine?
Peace and Wellness,