The small post on Facebook caught my eye. Probably because of the photo – of a large, wonderfully marked owl feather – an unusual find in the wild.
The woman who posted it was extremely appreciative of the way this feather had so unexpectedly entered her life, and was most intrigued with its potential meaning and intended message for her.
She and I are fond of, but not well known to, each other. And so, I began to scroll past the post as one strolls past open conversations at parties and other social gatherings.
But I was caught by her next, smaller, almost hesitant message: “Have you ever found a cardinal feather?”
And I felt compelled to reply: “Yes. I have found two of them.”
She responded almost immediately: “I long for the day when I will find a cardinal feather.”
And there the exchange ended.
Clearly, the possession of a cardinal feather held a strong, yet highly personal significance for her. There is, I know, deep ancient symbolism attached to feathers in general, and cardinals in particular. And all of it is influenced greatly by the individual who seeks them out. I knew in my heart that the two cardinal feathers I had in my possession would obviously mean a great deal more to her than they did to me. And so, that weekend, I tucked them into a small folded note and dropped the envelope through the mail slot at her office door.
The following Monday, she posted her gratitude – and thanked me personally – for the gift. It had sincerely touched her heart in a way I could not understand, but did appreciate.
On Tuesday, I collected my mail from the box at the end of my driveway, and was returning to the back gate, when a small, silent, sort of “fluttering” caught at the edge of my eye – and then at my heart – as a bright red cardinal feather floated to the ground. It seemingly came from nowhere and from anywhere. I stooped to pick it up, and found another almost identical feather just steps to the right of it. There were no more.
Here were two red cardinal feathers “returned” to me – a gift from God or the angels or the nobility of nature – whatever we each choose to call the spirituality of being. The feathers were there. Real … tangible … breathtaking … proof.
I shared the experience with my friend, and we were both struck with the beauty of it, the awe of it, the rightness of it.
And then, me being me … I began to search for the symbolic messaging behind it, the hidden intent, the silent secrets. I learned all I could about cardinals and their song and their harkening of health and change and promise and caution. I studied feathers and the nearness of angles and the freeing of the spirit to spread its wings and fly. I researched the color red, its connection to fire and the energy of chakras. I even familiarized myself with the number two, and its representation of creativity and feminine power and emphasis on partnership and cooperation.
It was a lovely journey through this focused awareness and sensitivity and possibilities.
But my soul was not satisfied. Until I was given the gift of insight and remembrance … just as I was waking … just this morning: “As you give, so shall you receive.” Certainly the simplest answer. The best answer. I suspect the truest and most authentic answer.
I also suspect that the two red cardinal feathers now watching over me at the edge of my desk are simply reminders that I am meant to always give my best – to give with intentionality the best part of myself. And, perhaps just as importantly, to look for and find the best part of others in return.