This picture was taken in our driveway. I took it a couple years ago when I was a hospice chaplain. It was the end of a long day and I had parked the car and was gathering up my things to go into the house when I heard the swooping of wings. I looked up and not ten feet from my open window there on the fence post was a hawk. I fumbled and bumbled to take this picture. And she seemed to just be staring at me. Amazing. Powerful. Beautiful. My second address to her was a question and third a greeting (my first exclamation is not really for young ears): “Where have you been?" and "Thank you for coming.”
There can be a strong temptation to go through our grieving days on auto pilot. Some days it feels easier to just zone out and allow the numbness to take over. There are days when it’s just too doggone hard to feel anything. There are days when we are looking for someone or something to show us what to do next.
Messengers come. They come into our lives at some of the most unexpected times, and sometimes at the most helpful of times. These messengers can be people, they can be old friends or family. A messenger can be a stranger on the street or someone sitting next to you on the shuttle bus. Messengers can also come from nature. Often my messengers appear as hawks or geese.
Every now and then messengers bring us words of guidance. More often than not though, they just help us wake up. Seeing them can awaken us. They can surprise us. They can help us shift our thoughts. They can give us pause to stop and to think differently. Grief has no road map, there is no checklist that will bring us healing. So, the gift from a messenger isn’t always easily understood. From them we can receive an invitation to see in a bigger or different way. I’m often reminded of seeing “from a bird’s eye view.” Each messenger is saying to me, “you’re not stuck, there’s something else.” Keep watching. These messengers can help us re-shape, re-visit, re-member. These messengers can remind us that truly, truly we are never alone. There is a greater energy and love that holds us. Keep watching, Emmanuel is coming.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.