Messages from a blue heron

Perhaps it was the unimaginable span of its arching, blue-black wings. Or its utterly silent flight, seemingly without effort and perfect in its grace. Or its impossible majesty, as it rose from nowhere and took my breath along with it. But watching the blue heron lift away from the lily pond between Rye Patch and Hopeland’s Gardens was quite otherworldly. Ethereal. A morning enchantment. Unexpected and delightful for both Indy dog and myself as we wandered along the grassy back lawns of this favorite walking place.

Indy and I stopped, quietly, aware that we were privileged to have this amazing creature swoop so near to us – to dip across our path and come to rest on the roof peak of the old Rye Patch stables. There, it perched, watching us in return. It would be hard to believe it didn’t want something from us – if only an awareness, an acceptance of its message and meaning. And so we stood for uncounted moments, exchanging curiosities and energies in the early morning light.

When Indy and I began to walk on, it spread its wings again and flew across our path once more, still silent and mysterious, and retook its original place in a tree that was branched out low over the pond. It seemed so intentional in its movements. A definite communication of some kind.

When I returned home, I read about and looked into potential meanings relative to this encounter and found a profound connection to my present life and being. The heron represents a long list of qualities recognized throughout history, but it spoke to me in particular of patience, grace, tranquility, and being in the present, along with solitude and independence.

Much of the heron’s symbolism comes from its relationship with the environment. It is comfortable in three elements: earth, water, and air, and lives in balance with them all. Therefore, it is said that if a person is in transition, the heron offers confidence to grow into a new environment or state of being.

There is a term called “liminal space” – and it refers to in-between phases or places or people in our lives. The heron is particularly appropriate as a guide for moving through these in-between, transitional moments of being because it is especially significant in its ease of existing “neither here nor there.”

The heron even hunts at twilight – a notable transition in time – moving effortlessly between day and night.

And it seemed to my mind somehow appropriate for a “blue” heron to be linked with that highly mystical time of day known as the “blue hour.” The “blue hour” occurs just after sunset and just before dawn – those twin moments in time when the sun is barely below the horizon, and the sky is not quite dark, but is awash with a deep and opaque inky blue color. It has also been called “the hour of confusion” – because, at that precise breadth of time, dawn and dusk appear indistinguishable, inseparable. And so, the blue heron brings its clarity and guidance, confidence and acceptance to even this, the ultimate “liminal space.”

Not surprisingly, later that night, I dreamed about the blue heron. In the dream, I was alone. And this amazing creature let me walk closer and closer to it, my feet making no sound across the dew-soaked grass. And when I reached its side, it looked at me with one, black, unblinking eye, spread it wings and covered me with its warm, downy expanse. I remember I could hear its heartbeat.

I have said before that I suspect we see in our lives – in our surroundings, in our encounters, in our experiences – exactly what we are meant to see when we are meant to see it. Perhaps it is only focused awareness. But I rather believe it is part of our connectedness to all living things. And, I suspect, such experiences may be messages sent to us on the wings and winds of opportunity, from a source that must love us very much.