Haven’t been here for a while. Got the chance to take a short vacation and traveled to the city in which I lived for almost forty years. It was a spur of the moment opportunity and I grabbed it with eagerness. It is about a three hour trip by car, one way. Had fun, saw a lot of people, did a lot of talking, laughing, and had a major surprise, and a few small ones.
Am always on the lookout for large birds when I make that trip. It is not unusual to spot 15 to 20 hawks perched atop telephone and utility poles. Turkey buzzards, eagles, herons, and an occasional crane winging it through the sky are not unusual as well. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the trip. However, this time, as I drove south, we only saw one lone hawk on the entire trip. That was unusual and one of my passengers even remarked about the scarcity.
The major surprise was that I got to spend two afternoons with someone I hadn’t seen, face to face, in over twelve years. This particular individual played a very important role in my existence and not only because she was the one who originally started me down the path of exploring the significance and symbolism to be found in spontaneous encounters with birds and other wild creatures.
The first moment she spoke, those twelve years vanished. It was like picking up a conversation that had started the day before. And we talked none stop. Not about catching up, but anything that came into our minds. The topics ranged from philosophy to the movie The Mall Cop. Needless to say it brought back tons of memories and lots and lots of emotions. It was a deeply soul satisfying experience.
On the trip home, no longer the driver, but a passenger in the back seat, I was sort of lost in a flood of images from the past days, the people, the words, the laughter, and the feelings. At some point, a thought occurred to me about the individual I just mentioned and something that I thought perhaps the Universe was inviting me to do. It was startling only because it seemed to come out of the blank nowhere of that flood of images of the days just passed.
It wasn’t a surprise, it has happened before. I didn’t hesitate because it felt absolutely right. In my mind, I quietly agreed to follow through on the invitation, but with a calm request that I be given specific directions. There was incredible peace about the whole thing.
Lost in this moment of introspection, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the blurred landscape outside the window I was seated next to. I looked up to see a Great Blue Heron flying high above that landscape. They are easy to spot and wonderful to watch in the air. As I did so, the bird slowly turned in my direction and the sun hit it directly. It wasn’t a Heron, it was a Snowy Egret, a closely related member of the same bird family. Which means that the Egret carries the same symbolism as the Heron.
The message of the Heron is about fierce self-determination and reliance. As that thought passed through my head, I almost laughed out loud because of what I had just been thinking. But, with no more than a split second of a pause, I also saw a Hawk perched atop a telephone pole facing in the same direction as the Egret was flying. West, the direction of the Future and the Unknown. The message of the Hawk is to remember who you really are.
Alerted, I now kept an eye on the passing trees and farmland. Didn’t see another bird for the rest of the trip. I felt that I had been given, not only an acknowledgement of my acceptance, but also a very definite message about my request for specific directions. It was all too synchronistic to ignore.
After arriving home, unpacking and settling in, I got out my copy of Animal- Speak by Ted Andrews. It is put out by Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, and although not well proofread, it has some very good information in it. The Egret is found in the section on the Heron.
It reflects a need for those with this totem to follow their own innate wisdom and path of self-determination. You know what is best for you and should follow it, rather than the promptings of others.
Finding and staying on ones own path is never easy. It would seem that everyone has an opinion and most of them are far more concerned with what the speaker feels comfortable with, rather than the actual reality of the listener. I have often made choices that were less than popular, so this message isn’t new to me, but it certainly was a well-needed reminder of my present circumstances.
Another quote from the beginning of Andrew’s section on the Heron was about the significance of its long stick-like legs and its slow careful progress as it wades through the water (life) in the marshes and wetlands where it feeds.
They are symbols of balance, and they represent an ability to progress and evolve.
At 63, I certainly still retain the ability to grow and become more than I am. The Egret is white which, in the Western Hemisphere, often represents innocence, as well as a certain level of ignorance or inexperience. Again, no matter how old we are, we can always learn more.
This may all sound like a rather sweet little blend of an all too obvious reality. On a personal level, however, I took it to be a heads up because my life is not over, there are new experiences to be had, and a great deal left to learn. Every step is one into the Future and the Unknown. It is so easy to take such things for granted and by doing so, ignore them and miss what, to me, was a very personal message and lots of synchronicity.
And although the message may seem to others, a rather blatant truth or even common sense, in that moment when it all came together, I felt the awe of a child discovering again, the world that lies all around her. Life, with all of its ups and downs, will continue, my own and others. If I live to be ninety, like my Mother, I hope I never loose that sense of innocent awe. It makes for a certain element of eagerness, a willingness to arise each day, and to stay alert to the present moment and whatever it brings.
That one moment, in the backseat of the car headed North, the direction of Wisdom and Knowledge, brought me peace in the midst of a flood of images and topsy-turvy emotions. All I need do is close my eyes and I can see that Snowy Egret juxtaposed with the Hawk and I feel both the awe and peace once again. I am still on the path and can progress, can evolve, can become.