But who says a person can have only one gift? Because, prophet or no, I do know that there has been only one time in my life when I felt I had received communication directly from the Almighty. I was driving home from work one evening—must be thirty years ago, now—and a vee of geese flew low over my car, barking and honking, silhouetted against the autumn sunset. I was enchanted; and, as this was during my “born again” period, I bubbled up with a little prayer of praise and thanks for the geese and their wild beauty.
And a thought came to me, clearly, not really in words, but definitely a directive: “This is what you are here to love.” I knew it was somehow my purpose to see and appreciate the wonder of the world and the other creatures the Universe has put here to share it with us. My gift. My duty.
I can and do talk to animals all the time. It feels perfectly natural to me. And though I can’t say they talk back, I know, I just know, there is an understanding, a connection that transcends language.
From time to time over the years, I’ve felt a particular connection to one kind of animal—usually birds. I called 2005 my “year of the eagle,” because it just seemed I encountered them at every turn. Eventually, I chose to believe that the eagle was my “spirit guide.” I continued to see eagles during a time of great progress and emotional rebirth for me. I came to count on their appearance as affirmations of the paths I was choosing to follow.
Oddly, since last fall, eagles have nearly ceased crossing my path. I started to believe that my spirit guide had abandoned me. Honestly, it freaked me out a little.
But then I noticed that birds had not disappeared from my life. In fact, they have still figured prominently in my journey, even since last fall when the eagles seemed to withdraw. The eagles simply gave way to…different birds. LOTS of birds. And, particularly, lots of birds making lots of little birds.
My backyard has been an avian nursery this spring and summer. Just last week, I counted at least half a dozen different groups of fledglings enjoying the ambience of our al fresco dining facilities. We’ve had baby jays, baby “French fry birds” (house sparrows—the ones that often hang around McDonald’s parking lots filching crumbs from soft-hearted patrons), baby house finches, gold-finches, starlings, song sparrows and siskins. Earlier this spring, we had families of two kinds of grosbeaks. A pair of tree swallows is raising a brood in the rafters of my shed, and they should be out and about in a few more days.
But by far the most entertaining has been a little brood of fledgling hummingbirds. They’ve consumed gallons (or so it seems) of sugar water, and take turns chasing each other away from the hummingbird feeder with great displays of future territorial behavior—chittering and dive-bombing and fanning out their little tails to make themselves look big and fierce. They seem to have little or no fear of the giant beings sitting in lawn chairs beneath their snack station; they think nothing of zooming through airspace largely occupied by human heads, which then duck and cover to avoid the unpleasant prospect of becoming hummingbird dart-boards.
I’ve been feeling so old lately. When I get out of bed, it takes me several steps before I can actually walk like a human being. I look in the mirror, and I look more and more like my mother every day. Technology has left me behind, teen-agers talk in a language I barely comprehend, and the pop culture of the 21st century leaves me cold. I SO feel like that brontosaurus trudging those last few hundred yards to the tar pits…
So, if eagles were my guides to adventure and growth, what does this newest manifestation of bird guides mean? Thinking about all the little ones flying around in my yard, I recalled a line from “Gone With the Wind”: “Babies are life renewing itself.” Maybe this is the Universe’s way of reminding me that there is still so much of life remaining.
And it never gets old.