“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-34
What a wonderful passage from the gospel of John! Today, the dove is widely regarded as a symbol of peace and reminds us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When I see a dove, either in a picture or in nature, it always brings me comfort.
Red cardinals also bring me comfort. I have written a blog about these birds as they are widely believed to represent a loved one who visits us from heaven. Victoria McGovern says it perfectly in her quote:
“May you come to find comfort in and remember cardinals appear when angels are near. So go now, sit outside and drink your tea. Keep a look out for the little red bird – it is there, your loved one will be.”
If you want to read about my experiences with red cardinals, just read my post, The Red Cardinal – Love From Heaven.
A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question on my Facebook page regarding Christianity and the hypocrisy that I have been noticing regarding Donald Trump. Here is the actual post:
OK, after thinking about this, I want to put this out there. I am asking for help from my Christian friends. For several months, I haven’t been attending church (except when I am with my mom – we attend Catholic church together). There is a reason for this that I haven’t shared with anyone until today. I have chosen to spend time with God on Sundays by myself. Here’s why – this whole thing with Trump has caused me to have bad feelings toward going to church. You see, I have seen hypocrisy like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime. I’ve seen Christians who post something religious every day but then support Trump unconditionally. I cannot understand how a Christian can support him after all the lies, the remarks about women, the lack of compassion, making fun of the disabled reporter, his constant attacks on anyone who disagrees with him, the name-calling, etc. I don’t get it. It is causing major depression, frustration, and incredible disappointment in those who are Christian yet still support Trump. I have had many long talks with God about this and how I am feeling, many times bringing me to tears. I don’t want to be part of any church right now. I just want to spend time alone with God. I feel alone. I know there are good people in the church who don’t support what Trump has done, and I keep telling myself that. But I have this strong urge to stay away right now. I have just seen so much hypocrisy. Who can help me out on this?
I did receive replies, some of them more helpful than others. I decided to continue with my alone time with God on Sundays, but a family member also gave me the idea to attend church during the week when there were fewer people there. She had done this, and she found it to be a source of Christian “nourishment”. I liked this idea, so I decided attend Catholic Mass during the week. She was right. I am also finding this to be a source of Christian “nourishment”.
During my first visit to Catholic Mass during the week, I prayed hard. I begged God for direction. I told Him once again of my concern over Christian hypocrisy and how it seems like some in the faith are being led in the wrong direction. I prayed for Donald Trump and his administration even though I don’t like what they are doing. I told God that I wanted to write with His direction, not my own. I begged Him to save our country and told Him that there were good people “down here”. I asked for His divine mercy on us, and by the end of the prayer, tears were filling me eyes. I looked up at the crucifix at the front of the church as a tear streamed down my face.
I struggled to go to Mass because one of the problems that I see currently, mostly in the Catholic church, is the pro-life issue. In politics, many Catholics are focusing solely on this one issue without thinking about anything else. I have heard people say that they MUST vote Republican because they are pro-life. There is even a priest out in California who has stated that it was a mortal sin to vote for anyone but Trump. However, these same people support cuts to disability that is in Trump’s current budget proposal. So here is something to think about: A child is born disabled, and according to these pro-lifers, this is a good thing. The child wasn’t terminated. OK, fine…but what now? He/she will need medical care for the rest of his/her life, but he/she can’t get that help because disability benefits are cut. That makes absolutely no sense. Pro-life should mean pro-life for everyone, not just the unborn.
Back to the Mass…when the prayers were said for others, I was really encouraged as they prayed for “all life, from the unborn to the elderly”. I smiled and thanked God for this small but very important change in this particular Catholic church. I hope that this change will take place in all Catholic churches.
After church, I went home and continued on with my daily chores. A few hours later, as I walked in my kitchen, movement outside caught my eye. I looked through my patio door only to see two beautiful mourning doves, one of which was digging in my flower-pot that hung off the side of my patio railing. As I walked closer, I watched as one of the doves stepped on the back of the other one who was digging between my begonia and verbena. I realized at that point that they were making a nest. I couldn’t believe it!! I thought back on my visit to church and my prayer. Was this a sign from God?
I felt so comforted. What are the chances that two mourning doves would nest just outside my patio door right after I begged God for help and mercy at Mass?
In the Bible, there are passages where doves are mentioned when people are in despair:
“My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelm me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.” Psalms 55:4-7
“I cry for help until morning, like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night you bring me to an end. Like a swallow or a crane I clamor, I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security!” Isaiah 38:13-14
“We all growl like bears; like doves we moan mournfully. We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation,, but it is far from us.” Isaiah 59:11
I again thought back on my tearful prayer that day. I knew God was telling me that he had heard my prayer. As I watched the doves work, I once again remembered how the Spirit came upon Jesus like a dove when he was baptized:
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased.'” Matthew 3:16-17
“And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on Him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Mark 1:10-11
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Luke 3:21-22
I continued to watch the doves work as I felt a sense of peace come over me. At one point, they saw both me and my cat, and I was afraid that they would abandon the nest since we were probably about 4 feet away from them.
But they didn’t. They stopped and looked for a minute, but then kept working. Several times, I saw one of them with a bunch of debris hanging out of its mouth. I was mesmerized as I watched them prepare the nest for their young.
I did some research on the behavior of mourning doves. The male will get twigs and debris for the nest, and when he brings it to the female, he will stand on her back and give it to her as she makes the nest. I saw this exact behavior. It was so much fun to watch. Next, I learned how to tell the difference between the male and female as it is quite subtle. The male is larger, and he has a little bit of blue on his head with some pink on his throat. Each time I checked on the dove that was sitting on the nest, she was all brown so I assumed it was the female. Then one day, I realized that the male was sitting on the nest. He had a very light blue on his head and very light pink on his throat, just as described in my research.
I also noticed that these birds have a beautiful teal color that surround their eyes. I can’t seem to get a good picture that actually shows how gorgeous this color is around their eyes, but it can be seen on other pictures of these birds on the internet. When I saw the male close up, I realized that I could now tell the difference between the two birds just by their eyes. The female has the teal color that surrounds the entire eye, whereas the male has the teal under his eye while his upper eyelid covers the rest of the teal color.
Later that night, I slowly went over to the patio door to close the shades, hoping once again that I wouldn’t scare them off. Amazingly, they stayed.
The next morning, I slowly opened the shades, and both doves were there – mama on the nest and papa with debris in his mouth.
A few seconds later, two other birds flew up and landed on the patio rail right next to the two doves. I immediately recognized them as cardinals – one of them (the male) had a bright red chest. I could not believe it! Two mourning doves and two red cardinals standing just feet from me, doves signifying peace and the cardinals signifying a visitor from heaven!
The next day, as I worked in the house, I noticed that the dove was not on the nest. I walked to the door and looked out to see one big white egg. I was so excited! The mama bird came back to the nest within about ten minutes and sat on her egg for the rest of the day.
Still so happy about the one big white egg, I went to my mailbox to pick up my mail. I was so happy to receive a card from my aunt as she knew I was struggling with Christian hypocrisy. Inside the card, there was a bookmark with a quote by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
This added to my sense of peace. The statement, “I believe the desire to please You does in fact please You” gave me great comfort. I realized that for me, I was doing the right thing by going to church during the week when it was quieter and spending alone time with God on Sunday. I knew that since I desire to please Him and only Him, that is enough. I believe that God sent those doves to me as a sign of peace and as His way of telling me that He will lead me down the right road.
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
A couple of days later, I noticed once again that the dove had left the nest, so I went to look at it. This time there were two eggs! It is just so amazing to watch. I learned through research that mourning doves typically lay two eggs.
Each day, I walk up to the patio door and talk to the doves, telling them that they are safe here. When I talk to them (not sure they can hear me…haha!), they just look at me, but they don’t seem to get upset at all that I am so close to the nest. I’m pretty sure they know now that I won’t hurt them. I don’t go out on my patio because I think I may scare them off. I don’t want them to abandon the nest.
I have since looked up many passages in the Bible that mention doves. As I read the following passage, I remembered when, in my prayer at church, I asked God to direct my writing:
“See I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves…When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20
I knew that God would help me in my writing. I want to write what is true according to His word. I know he heard my request.
The dove as a sign of the Holy Spirit is so incredibly comforting. These birds are so peaceful, and they bring a great sense of serenity. God tells us in the Bible to live by the Spirit, not by the flesh:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control….If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25
As I read more passages about doves in the Bible, I realize that they are also a great sign of hope:
“For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted, the hill and the watchtower will become dens forever, the joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks, until a spirit from on high is poured out on us, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.” Isaiah 32:14-15
“For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:11-14
This brings to mind another great quote from St. Teresa of Avila:
“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God only is changeless. Patience obtains all things. One who has God wants nothing. God alone suffices.”
Even though it is tough to do, God tells us not to worry. There are terrible things going on in this world, and it is so hard to not get mad or irritated. It is also incredibly difficult, at least for me, to see all this Christian hypocrisy. I believe that these doves are a way of telling all of us that only God is necessary for peace and that things will eventually change for the better. In the Catholic church that I attend, it appears that things are already changing. The things that happen in this world are passing, but God never changes. Hold on to Him and stay in His Word. As he sent those doves to me, he will also send peace to those who truly believe in Him and who ask Him for it. So I will leave you with this:
“Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.