Last spring I came to one of my favorite barrier islands for respite, and to find a new home.
We all tend to want to return ‘home,’ to the places where we have been the happiest. We look to the past for the places where we felt safe, loved, understood, seen and heard. All these human needs call us back to a place that feels like ‘home.’
For me this island was home a thousand years ago. And my memories of this land and life back then are good. It was a good home then, and I want it to be my home now.
Three osprey greet me and my daughters upon our arrival to the island. The osprey guide me each day while we stay in a month to month rental.
I go outside and pay attention to the birds. I watch them, and I go sit on the ancient mounds and listen to the ancestor spirits.
They remember me. They welcome me. And they teach me what I need to know.
After several weeks here the Ancestors tell me it is time for me to go. I don’t want to go and I tell them I plan to find a home here. I want to stay close to them, close to the memories, close to the land.
They tell me I have to go.
I tell them I am looking around for a rental home. And that in time I will buy a house here, and land, lots of land. I expect them to be happy, to welcome me back home.
Instead the ancestor spirits tell me, ‘No.’
“This isn’t where you belong. You have to go back where you will be with people, Cat. You can’t stay here. You can’t hide here.”
I promise them I will let people come. I will let people find me this time.
The spirit who has been my Father for many lifetimes looks at me sternly. He lets me know this isn’t the best place for me.
And he says he will be with me, but I must go.
I continue to sit obstinately on the sacred ground. The osprey that had been watching from his nest right above us swoops down close to my head.
The Father Spirit takes my arm and tells me it’s time.
I stand up and two osprey come toward me. They swoop down low when they get close to me, then swoop back up to their nest
“Okay, okay.” I say and I pretend to go to my car.
Instead I sneak around the back.
I have decided not to leave just yet. There was a ‘for sale’ sign on an old house just beyond the sacred mounds. I want to check out one more possibility…maybe this house will make it possible for me to stay close to my ancestors.
The birds come in closer and closer. They are following me down the back road. Soon there are a half dozen birds of prey all swooping down close to my head.
For the last several weeks these birds have been coming close to me to show me the fish that they catch. They have sat quietly nearby when I meditate. They have been my guides, my teachers and my friends.
Now they seem to be telling me they want me to go.
I love it here. I don’t want to go. And I have no idea where I will go from here. I have been all over, from Sedona to Seattle, from Sarasota to Santa Fe. I have lived in many places, and there is no place else that I would rather be right now. I want to be here, among these Ancestor Spirits. Here I can see them, hear them and feel them so clearly. And it feels good to feel their love for me, to hear their wisdom and to learn from them each day.
I have already learned the lessons of going. I have learned the hardship of good-bye over and over and over again. I have learned not to attach, not to cling. Or have I?
Today I am attached. Today I am clinging.
The birds are calling for back-up. Several more large birds arrive overhead. They follow me closely.
There is no hiding from the ancestors. There are no back roads they do not know. There is no way to sneak around unseen by Spirit.
In my determination to stay and live where I want (instead of where Spirit says), I try to act like other people by ignoring the signs around me.
“This is crazy. These birds can’t really be following me…they can’t all be focused on me?” I wonder as another large bird swoops down a couple feet from my head and then heads back up again.
I take off my hat as another bird comes so close I think it might take a peck at my straw cowboy hat. (Yes, I’m protecting the hat instead of my head.)
Then a white van appears around the bend on this quiet back road on this quaint, quiet island devoid of tourists. I am walking down the middle of the road, large birds following me. I quickly move to the side of the road to let the van pass, but instead it stops.
An elder man in a crisp blue shirt and white tie with a long, gray beard puts down his window to speak to me. I have never seen a man in a shirt and tie on this island. And without any sweat showing on his shirt, in this heat…I decide he must be an angel.
He speaks to me as if we are old friends. “You know…” he says speaking slowly and calmly, taking his time to finish his sentence while looking at the birds, then me, then the birds. “You know, don’t you, that those birds are…stalking you?”
“Oh, you noticed…” I speak with him as if he is an old friend. Not too many words, but there is an energy between us, as if I have known him forever.
And I too, look at him, and back up at the birds, then back in his old, wise eyes.
“They definitely want to get your attention.” he says still looking cool as a cucumber in the hot, humid Florida sure-to-make-you-perspire- in-a-blue-cotton-shirt air.
I hear my Father in spirit speaking to me, “You came to serve – to help and to heal. You cannot hide here, Cat. You received what you needed here, now you must go.”
I feel like I am being thrown out of the nest – again.
The old man in the van reiterates the message, “Those birds are definitely following you. And I suggest you pay attention to what they are trying to tell you.”
I thanked him and he rolled up his window and moseyed down the quiet back road on the quiet island devoid of anyone else in that moment.
I decided to listen. I decided to let the birds lead me.
They led me back to my car. I got into my Dodge and went back to the bungalow where my daughters and I began packing our things.
The next day, did I head down the road? No. I went back one more time.
My Father Spirit sees me immediately, “Cat…we said good bye already.”
“Yeah, I know. But I just wanted to be with you one more day…”
I go to the head of the trail that will lead me up to the tallest mound.
A green snake slithers across the trail in front of me. It stiffens and creates a straight line across the trail, a barrier between me and the place I used to call home.
I laughed. The spirits laughed with me. They look like relatives at the doorway waving me good-bye. They assured me all would be well.
We must give up all self doubt in order to know what Spirit wants us to know. We must wake up and admit we know. We see. We are all connected.
Step outside and receive your own messages from heaven.
The birds know. They see it all.
They rain down upon me when I need their messages.
They show me where to go, and where not to go.
They tell me when I can come home to rest, and they tell me when I need to leave the nest.
On a good day, it’s raining birds…
Watching over me, and guiding me home…
Hallelujah. It’s raining birds. Amen.
With love and affection,
Go Forward With Courage
When you are in doubt, be still and wait.
When doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still.
Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
— as it surely will.
Then act with courage.
Ponca Chief White Eagle