It is Easter Sunday. I’m tucked into my chair in the corner of the dining room where I can watch the birds at the feeder and the deer stroll through the yard on their quest for easy food. The sky is a little grey.
On a normal year, this would be the first big family gathering of the new year. Our ‘snowbirds’ would just be arriving home from a winter away in the south and we would be eager for a get-together. It would be loud and boisterous, big hugs in greeting, the smell of a roasting ham filling the air, a big bundle of pussywillows in a vase on the table…
But this is not a normal year. It’s our first big holiday without Dad and we are all dealing with that in our own ways. There won’t be any big gathering just yet. I think it will be easier if our first spring gathering happens next week or the week after when there isn’t the weight of a holiday to bear as well.
It’s painfully quiet in our house this morning. My Sweet is working the night shift so he’s sleeping, our youngest son is still laying in bed reading – keeping quiet so as not to disturb the slumbering one. And I am sitting and reflecting on Easter Sunday and miracles.
I had one the other day…a miracle…a visitation of sorts.
I’ve been a little melancholy the past week or so and it’s just dawning on me now that it’s likely because Easter was approaching and it’s the first milestone holiday without Dad. I was sitting in this same chair, gazing out the front window watching my front yard and feeling more than a little morose.
It started snowing Wednesday night and by Friday morning there was a foot of fresh, heavy snow covering everything and big, clumpy gobs of it continued to fall. Every living thing should have been looking for shelter from the storm.
But our yard was thick with birds. I’ve never seen so many birds in our yard at one time. The ground and the naked, leafless lilac bushes were covered with juncos. There were tiny red polls scattered among the juncos and blue jays swooped in. Robins started appearing, at least a dozen, their backs charcoal grey, darker than usual with the wet weather and rusty breasts standing out boldly against the white background. Two different kinds of woodpeckers perched on the feeder. Tiny, bright red house finches hopped among the other little birds on the ground. And most surprising of all, a stunning little falcon – a kestrel – perched up high surveying the scene below.
Even from inside the house I could hear them, cheerfully chirping while the snow continued to fall.
I sat and watched while the tears slid down my cheeks because all I could think was that Dad had sent them.
At one point in the day, my neighbour ventured over to drop off something. I watched her walk slowly up the driveway, stopping to look around at all the birds. When she finally got to the back door, she said, “What is going on with all the birds in your yard?!” So I knew it wasn’t just me that recognized something unusual was happening.
The yard was like that all day long, the sun had set and I could still see birds hopping around on the snow.
At times throughout the day, my heart was so full of love and gratitude I could barely stand it. I closed my eyes, overwhelmed, and said, “Thanks for the visit Dad. I’ve missed you. I love you.” And I could feel his hands on my shoulders, pulling me close for a hug and I could hear him say, “Love you too daughter.”
I’m sure lots of people will have lots of opinions and explanations for why our yard had so many birds. That’s fine. I know what I saw and I know what I felt.
Dad loved birds. As impatient and blustery as he was at times, he had the patience to sit outside in the cold with a bit of seed cupped in his hands not moving a muscle, until finally, the chickadees would get comfortable enough with his presence to sit and eat from his hands. It was something special to watch.
Maybe all those birds in my yard wasn’t a miracle. Maybe there really is a perfectly reasonable, rational explanation for it. Maybe I’m just fooling myself and trying to ease my grief. It doesn’t matter because I know what I choose to believe.
When I was 16, my Granny gave me a beautiful cross-stitched picture. It still hangs in my home. It’s a picture of a little blue bird with a red breast, wings spread below the branch of a pine tree. The verse reads, “If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come.”
Practicing gratitude keeps that green bough alive in my heart. It brings a little bird who sings of love and hope. It brings joy even when there is sorrow. It is why I can see a miracle in a flock of visiting birds and still feel the comfort of a hug from my father.
I’ll hold my little miracle close for a long time, I’m sure. It will encourage me to keep tending that green bough in my heart and if I do, maybe the birds will keep visiting.
Love and light…