I woke up to the world about fifteen years ago and stopped reacting and began responding instead. Suddenly, my heart was plugged in where once it was held back for safe keeping. It was a primarily spiritual awakening, but it was emotional, too, as I’m convinced that our spiritual and emotional bodies are intrinsically linked. I began to notice the repeated presence of certain animals almost immediately and gradually I realized each had symbolic and personal meaning.
We had a macaw from 2002 to 2005. He was a beautiful bird, had lots of personality and was very deep emotionally. He was also an intense task master who demanded my full attention. When I strayed, he bit me. Have you ever been bitten by a macaw? It’s extremely painful. His name was General, and he was one of my greatest teachers. From then on, I saw birds everywhere.
Wild parrots, a sign of the Goddess, are all over San Francisco. I bumped into them frequently near the Embarcaderos where they took over a local park and on Dolores Street where they’d invaded palm trees. They were all over Connecticut, too, nesting in telephone poles and causing all sorts of trouble. Hawks frequently circle the mountains near our home, and I can hear them vocalizing when I walk the dogs. Great Blue Herons have been a personal spiritual signpost since I saw my first in the year 2000. They affirm I am right where I should be. While we lived in Connecticut, I worked on an enormous 1,500 person pharmaceutical campus in Wallingford, and every day on the way in, a Great Blue heron stood in the pond assuring me that even though I didn’t like being there, I was there for a reason. Here, I was gifted with very special time with my grandmother. Symbolically, birds are a sign of the intellect or thoughts, and they remind us to be watchful, particularly hawks with their visual acuity. I believe they want to put us in touch with our blessings.
Dogs, on the other hand, are all feeling. They understand the world through their nose, but they feel and communicate with their heart. Jack, our Golden Retriever, was a very direct communicator, and when he needed to go out for a walk, he made direct eye contact with me and wouldn’t let up until I put my shoes on. Daizy, our Boston Terrier, is quite cerebral, and when she wants something, like more food, she points to it with her nose. Of course, we saw the depth of her heart when she grieved over losing Jack, who recently passed away. Teddy, the new puppy, is learning very quickly and uses his eyes, nose, paws, voice, and other bodily functions to communicate his needs quite effectively. He’s got all bases covered.
A few night ago, as we drove homeward on highway 101 down the hill into Pacifica, I saw a coyote. It was standing atop a bluff silhouetted by the dusk sky. I hear plenty of coyotes singing at night, but I’ve never seen one. This was clear as day, however, and it caught my eye immediately.
The coyote is considered a trickster by native americans. He reminds us to tackle life’s challenges with a sense of humor, much like the Devil card in the tarot’s major arcana. Some believe he brings shifts of balance and consequently an ending somewhere, representing the natural cycle of life and death.
The next morning, my grandmother passed away in her sleep. In the 10 years she was in convalescent care, she fought raging UTI infections and sepsis, hallucinations brought on by powerful antibiotics, and increasingly intense dementia. She’d returned from death’s door more times than I can count, but she left this world with little fanfare or drama. Her heart simply stopped as she slept, and she departed quietly and peacefully in the night. Thelma’s death wasn’t unexpected, but it shifts the balance in my life a number of ways by closing the door on the past, yet urging me to remember how she helped me when I was a child. It puts me poignantly in touch with my gratitude.
Thelma’s obituary was posted on line and whoever wrote it rendered her grandchildren (my brothers and I) anonymous despite our having played a major role in her later life. There is a lot of water under that bridge. Floods. I found this incredibly irritating and most hurtful, and I started to get hung up on it.
While walking the dogs yesterday, I noticed two Red Tailed Hawks riding the drafts together and singing songs of companionship with screeches and chirps. They were beautiful. Then, I lowered my head just in time to see a monarch butterfly cross in front of me. When I looked up again, there were four hawks instead of just two, and they were singing and playing in pairs. It was breathtaking and gave me pause.
Like the coyote, the butterfly’s message is about evolution and change. While they are beautiful, they pass through an entire lifecycle very quickly, embodying the ability to navigate change successfully. In fact, change happens whether we want it to or not. It is best to roll with it, lest it roll right over us. The hawks remind me to remain focused on what makes me happy, but not to the detriment of my responsibilities. There is always the need to balance economics with creativity, which was something my grandmother was good at in her day, and something I struggle with currently.
So, what’s the short version here? First, change, like puppy poop in the house, happens. Accept it. If you don’t watch for it, you’ll step in it. If you do, don’t dwell on it, just deal with it. Like puppies that get into everything, blessings are everywhere, but if your heart isn’t open, you’ll miss them. We may not get what we want in life, but we’ll get what we need. This requires faith, which is another good reason to keep your heart open. Life is a gift, and our time here is limited. But, like the hawks and the butterfly, perhaps if we observe change, our blessings will double.
It’s all good.