They made a secret pact to allow for a remote possibility—that if something of Susan survived her death, in some mysterious way and at some meaningful moment she’d show up as an owl.
To their way of thinking, the likelihood of her somehow manifesting such a sign was highly improbable. Yet here was this owl, suddenly appearing as Dick played their wedding song for a group of friends. Here was this beautiful bird, watching and attending to the words he and Sue both loved—What can you do with each moment of your life, but love til you’ve loved it away. Here it sat transfixed until the last note, when, just as suddenly, it flew away.
I suspect that this single, stunning event, with song and sign perfectly synchronized, might have been enough to persuade Dick of Sue’s presence. But as noted in the preceding post, the owl came back, again and again, fourteen days in a row, including the date of Sue’s birthday and the date of their wedding.
There are hallmarks for recognizing signs from the metaphysical realm: They are impossible to orchestrate. In other words, their occurrence is beyond human manipulation or control. Typically, they are unexpected, prompting wonderment and surprise. As with other signs appearing in the natural world, the creature in question may depart from its characteristic or instinctual behaviors. In this case, for example, the owl appeared during the daylight hours in close proximity to the house, not at all skittish about Dick’s presence or picture-taking.
Divine timing usually figures in. A particular sign synchronizes with a meaningful connection to something in the departed one’s and recipient(s)’ experience—like the love song aligned with the owl, alighting on a branch as witness to it—not to mention, the string of daytime visits. Their occurrence months after Sue’s passing seems timely to me as well. In the earlier, deepest throes of grief, Dick might have dismissed his reaction as evidence of disturbed or so-called magical thinking. The owl’s visits, happening later, turned out to be nothing less than transformative.
It’s hard to dismiss such elements as simply coincidental, especially in combination. But, for me, the best indicator of Something-More is in one’s initial reaction. It could be a hard-to-dismiss inkling of a felt presence, an astonished intake of breath, or an immediate rush of recognition when the sign materializes. Goosebumps count. An upwelling of gratitude, too.
The challenge is to honor an instinctive “knowing” that comes from within. It can be difficult to stay open to a feeling and to trust in one’s intuitive response. More common is a learned reflexive shift to the default position— second thoughts that favor dismissing and discrediting the first, soulful sixth sense. My resolve to remain receptive to the interplay between realms— through something as simple as a sign—has enriched my life beyond measure. And I’m not alone.
“These experiences with Sue greatly enhanced my willingness to consider the workings of the universe in new ways—all centered around the concept of total, constant, and unconditional love,” Dick told me recently. “Every day I feel like shouting, “Thank you!” for the flow of love that I experience from the universe.”
The owl sightings were a source of peace for him, to be sure. But perhaps the deeper magic was the way the validation altered his bead on reality, with this new sense of an all-pervading love. Writer and teacher Cynthia Bourgeault’s words come to mind. “If we can remain open, we discover that a mysterious ‘something’ does indeed reach back to comfort us; the tendrils of our grief trailing out into the unknown become intertwined in a greater love that holds all things together.”
Over the years, I’ve experienced an inner shift from skepticism to wonder to acceptance. Now I’m fluent in “sign” language—proficient in recognizing a sign when I see one. There are signs from loved ones on the Other Side, signs from Source, signs integral to the natural world, signs arising in other settings and situations. Big magic. That’s what a collective known as Spirit recently called what shows up in my life. Tell others about it, they’ve said. And in a spirit of gratitude, I’m doing just that.
For those who subscribe to this blog via email, I’ll close with a note I’ve already shared with those who follow my posts on Facebook:
“Last night, on the same day that I posted “‘Sign’ Language (I),” I happened to be with Dick Oberg, whose story I wrote about, and a small group of longtime friends. To our surprise, a magnificent Great Horned Owl came flying toward a branch beyond the picture window of the house where we’d gathered. There it sat, as we stared back in wonder. Here’s the photo that friend Michael took of an instance of sweet synchronicity and, for us, a moving reminder —a sign —from our friend Sue.