Years ago, we lived near a beach where our boys ran wild and built forts and played in the sand and mud. Running wild was key to their upbringing: Jim and I had moved from Seattle city life so that our boys could experience nature more directly.
Mission accomplished in our home of 20 years: they played outside in every season. They fished off the banks of nearby beaches. They built log forts, and made rock damns. And, importantly: They directly viewed and experienced wildlife: otters, fish, whales, weasels, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, toads and frogs. They looked under rocks and found salamanders and crabs. They looked to the sky or up in the trees for nests and bird sightings.
Of course, I had the best job of all: bringing nature to my kids and their pals. We’d walk to this beach, and sometimes I’d play with them—I love building forts. Or I’d let them loose, and while they played, I’d go on a walkabout, and think and observe and commune. I found treasures to pocket, or gather and drag home: sculpted driftwood, rocks large and small, and feathers—lots of feathers. I still have bouquets of feathers all over my work studio and home.
For me, feathers are an offering from above: above the fray of everyday dramas, and above the bounds of gravity. I’ve used feathers in ceremonies and in healing sessions: As I smudge with feathers and the sacred smoke of sage or cedar or Palo Santo, I offer up prayers of healing. Up and up the sacred smoke goes, to the great Above: Great Spirit, God, Universe, Source, Creator….
Back to the beach:
It was a cloudy day on the beach with boys and hubby. My mood was clouded by my dealing with Jim’s recent medical emergency: a grand Mal seizure and cardiac arrest had prompted a Near Death Experience on his part, and a new role as carer and full time breadwinner on my part. So, while Jim was happily involved in a driftwood building project with the boys, I wandered off to let nature heal my still-frazzled nerves.
I wandered and thought and prayed and cried a little. Life seemed overwhelming with new issues to solve: How do I make ends meet while we wait for disability insurance to kick in? What kind of care or rehabilitation did JIm need to heal his injured brain and damaged heart? How do I cope and raise a family and work and…?
I was stopped by a familiar sound: an eagle screech from right above me. The eagle circled in a slow vortex above my distressed human, then screeched again and flew off. My gaze stared at the empty space eagle left behind. But wait a minute—the space wasn’t empty! Something floated down towards me. I opened my hands, palms up, as if the something would somehow land in them.
Down it floated, swinging in an unseen breeze and into my waiting hands. I stared at the eagle feather in disbelief of how it could have made such an accurate landing. The physics didn’t matter though, because the metaphysics were obvious: The feather was an offering from above with this message: “Elke, once in awhile, you need to look up. And you need to rise up, above the busy-ness of your mind, above the circumstances you live in, above your human self in order to view your life from your higher Self. Take in the view from where the eagles fly, above it all.”
I accepted the offering and murmured: “Thanks for the reminder.”
*The above picture came from a beautiful calendar, with art from indigenous Tlingit and Yukon artist Jean Taylor. You can find her art on https://theindigenouscollection.com/