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Last week, I attended a writer’s conference in Kentucky. I went there to learn how to write from my heart as I am a scientist and am used to writing in terms of facts, not feelings. I absolutely LOVED this retreat, and I learned more in one week than in all the years I have been a writer. The retreat was led my author Paula D’Arcy. She has written many books, and I highly recommend them.
While there, I wrote a little poem about nature and dancing. I have since added on to this poem and wanted to share it with you. This is my first attempt at poetry. Hope you enjoy it!
Through the open, time-worn window,
I watch as a lush willow tree sways in the gentle wind
Like the delicate movements of a ballerina
As she moves gracefully across the open stage.
Two squirrels dance the pas de deux
As they swiftly chase each other across the dense emerald grass
Performing an allégro of frappés, chassés, and assemblés.
A cat performs an energetic pas de chat
While trying to catch its elusive prey.
As the angelic sounds of songbirds fill the air,
Small moss-green leaves drop to the ground in mini-pirouettes.
A red bird catches my eye.
He performs a demi-plié before launching into an elegant flight
Gliding gloriously through the air in a grand adagio
Against a backdrop of breath-taking azure.
The dance of nature.
In perfect harmony.
©Maria Yeager, 2017
Since the beginning of the year, it seems like I have been bombarded with quotes and pictures about red cardinals.
The first quote I saw was in January on my Facebook page. This quote, by Victoria McGovern, gave me great comfort:
“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.”
This quote was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful male red cardinal in the snow. I immediately thought of my dad since he passed away in 2014, but I doubted that I would see any red cardinal since it was the middle of winter. At my home, I usually see finches or sparrows, but only in the spring/summer. It was a nice, fleeting thought, but I didn’t think much more about it.
About a week later, a friend of mine who is also an excellent writer and photographer posted a picture that he had taken that day. It was snowing, and two red cardinals, one male and one female, sat in the branches of a tree outside his window. I was stunned! I knew that this was a sign that angels were near. Again, I thought about my dad, and I told my mom what had happened which gave her great comfort.
A few weeks later, another post came across my Facebook page. Again, it was a picture of a male red cardinal. The quote read as follows:
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, loves leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Once again, I thought about my dad and how no one can take away the memories I have of him. I remembered how he sat me on his lap and let me act like I was driving the car. I remembered how me held on to the back of my bicycle as I learned to ride while promising to not let go of the bike (even though he eventually did). I remembered how he taught me to calculate complex math problems for my school homework. I remembered how he wrestled with me and my brother and sister on the living room floor and had us laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. I thought about how none of these memories could ever be taken from me. I smiled.
A few days later, as I worked in my office, I looked up at my bookcase as I took a small break. My eyes immediately were drawn to a book that I had read last year – “The Gift of the Red Bird” by Paula D’Arcy. I thought about the red cardinal once again, and joy filled my heart.
Just about three weeks ago, I saw yet another post on my Facebook page. Again, it was a male red cardinal in the snow, and the quote was as follows:
“When a red cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from heaven.”
Well, I don’t have a “yard” since I live in a townhouse. But, my mom has a nice big yard, and she loves to watch the birds in her backyard. She has a bird feeder that she keeps filled all the time, and the birds come often…that is if the squirrels don’t get to the feeder first. I called her and told her what I had just seen on Facebook and told her to keep an eye out for red cardinals in her yard.
A couple of days later, I again was surprised when I saw that another one of my good friends posted a picture that she had taken of a red cardinal in some tree branches. I didn’t have a yard, but that red cardinal somehow still managed to show up. Again, I smiled and thought of my dad.
That same day, I called my mom, and her first words were “You aren’t going to believe this!” As she sat on her deck that morning, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I will see a red cardinal today.” Not long after that, a female cardinal showed up in some bushes followed by a beautiful male red cardinal. She just couldn’t believe it, but she was so comforted. I was just shocked!
About two weeks ago, I went to visit my mom, and I stayed overnight. While we ate breakfast, we talked and looked outside through the bay window in her kitchen. Suddenly, a male and female red cardinal appeared near her bird feeder. It was probably the same pair that she saw just days earlier. The first thing that I noticed is that the male was such a bright red color and was absolutely gorgeous – probably the brightest red cardinal I had ever seen. We were both quite sure they were visitors from heaven – angels that had come to tell us that we were loved.
My mom’s birthday was March 1. On that morning, as she prepared her breakfast, she looked out the window only to see that gorgeous male red cardinal. But this time, he was sitting in the crape myrtle tree next to the house. This was my dad’s favorite tree. The cardinal looked directly at her and didn’t fly away. He just sat in the branches of my dad’s favorite tree and stared at her. It was a moment that she will never forget and is one of the best birthday gifts she has ever received. This was most certainly my dad sending his love from heaven.
Always be on the lookout for these “angels” from heaven. Love is being sent our way all the time, sometimes through the most simple and innocent of ways – we just have to slow down and look for it!
A few months ago, as I was writing at my computer, I heard a bunch of noise at my front door. I went to the door and looked out my peephole, and to my delight, a small bird was constructing a nest in my wreath. The wreath was just the right size that I could watch her closely through the peephole. Now, I know some people might not like a bird making a nest on a wreath on a front door because of the mess the birds would leave behind, but not me. I love all kinds of animals, and I was so happy that she chose her nest location on my wreath.
As the days went by, I heard constant singing and chirping. I decided to look up information on birds as I know very little about them. I was able to match the singing to a house finch. When she finally laid the eggs and I saw them through the peephole, I was completely convinced that this was a house finch. The eggs appeared light blue with dark specks on them, and this is what a house finch eggs looks like.
Apparently, it takes 12-14 days for finch eggs to hatch, so when they hadn’t hatched at about day 15, I became a little worried. Mom was still sitting on them, but they weren’t hatching. I said a prayer and specifically asked God to help the little finches. I was so excited to see that a couple of the eggs had hatched the very next day. I watched as mom brought food to the nest and fed the little mouths that I saw through the peephole.
A couple of days later, dad must have been visiting the nest as I saw a beautiful red-chested bird facing toward the peephole, and he looked exactly like the house finches I had seen on the computer. He was beautiful, and I watched as he fed the babies. Amazing!
However, a few days later, I noticed that there wasn’t much activity in the nest. I couldn’t see the babies, and I again started to worry. After a full day of no activity, I decided to open my front door (I had been entering and exiting my house through my garage as to not disturb the nest). To my utter disappointment, I found a dead baby lying in front of my door. I could not locate the second baby. I looked in the nest, and there were two unhatched eggs still in it, but I knew the parents abandoned the nest. I moved the dead baby bird into the grass. My heart was broken. I spoke to God and told him that I didn’t understand why the babies died. I didn’t understand why I prayed for them, then they hatched only to die several days later. I was depressed and frustrated; however, deep inside I knew that all things happen for a reason. I tried to hang onto that, but it was hard.
About a week later, again as I was writing, a bird flew straight into my window. It didn’t die – it just flew off and landed on a nearby railing. I was able to get a good look at it, and it looked like a female finch. About a month later, I attended a family reunion. After checking into the hotel room, I opened the curtains to the balcony only to find a dead goldfinch lying on a chair. At that point, all I could do was laugh. I told my family members, and all I could think was, “What is it with all the dead or injured birds? I don’t get it!”
I think my questions were answered this morning. When I first woke up, I checked facebook (as I always do). I saw a post from one of my friends that quoted Isaiah 52:7:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bring good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””
The word “publishes” stuck out to me since I am a writer. Was God telling me to write an inspirational blog today? I wasn’t sure, but it was intriguing.
I walked down the steps and into my kitchen. After making sure my cat had enough food and water, I opened the blinds to my patio. Right at that moment, two finches flew up, landed on my railing, and looked directly at me. One was a female (all brown) and the other was a gorgeous male (bright red on his chest and on his tail). Almost immediately, two more female finches showed up and landed on the railing next to the other two. They just looked at me and didn’t seem scared at all. It was almost as if they were telling me that everything is OK with them. Even though bad things happened, they are all OK. I couldn’t believe how close they were and how they didn’t seem scared at all when I moved the blinds. Even my cat came up and looked out, and they didn’t move. They just cocked their heads from side to side and looked at us. After a few minutes, they all flew away.
When my mom heard about this, she reminded me of the following verse in the Bible:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29
I believe that today, we need to remember that we should not worry and always remember that God is holding us in the palm of His hand. He is in control. I know that in recent days, there has been much suffering in light of the police shootings and the event in Dallas, but we must remember that God is the source of peace. We need to turn to Him and lean on Him during this time. God teaches us to be loving and compassionate, and we, as onlookers to this event, need to help out others who are hurting during this time and bring them some sense of peace. This is a very rough time for a lot of people, but happy days will return, just as it did for the finches.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 5:13