Our Feathered Messenger

Remember that although bodies may pass away, the energy that connects you to a loved one is everlasting and can always be felt when you’re open to receiving it.

~Doreen Virtue, Signs from Above

I was never much of a believer in messages from beyond — not until the summer of 1986. A few years earlier, my husband and I had visited my father-in-law in England. His wife had recently passed away, and he seemed anxious to talk about his own mortality. As we gazed at the flowers in the garden, he explained, “You know when I pass, within a couple of days after my death or sooner, you will be visited by a little bird. He will come into your home, and you will wonder how it could possibly happen.”

My husband and I looked at each other, not saying a word and not wanting to discredit my father-in-law. “I know you both think that I am daft, but this visit will come to pass. Until it happened to my good friend, I did not believe it either. I told him that he was crazy. I thought that he had had one too many at the pub. But I swear it is true that it really happened!”

We continued visiting with Dad, and he brought up the subject periodically. Each time, he delivered his message with the same amount of urgency. Even as we were leaving to go home, his parting words were, “Don’t forget the wee bird. It is a sign, and it will happen to you.” We returned home and forgot about his words for the time being.

One morning a few years later, my husband was greeted by the chirping of a tiny bird in our kitchen. “Gail, come quickly. You aren’t going to believe what I have just found!” Strutting around the floor was this little creature. It seemed somewhat bewildered as to where it was, but it did not appear scared. “Could this be the bird your dad spoke about? Was this the sign he predicted would happen?”

We had no idea how this small bird had managed to enter our home. This little fellow should have been very intimidated coming into our house as we lived with four cats. It was extremely fortunate for our visitor that none of the cats appeared. “How did it ever manage to get inside?” I marveled. All the windows and doors were closed. Yet there it was!

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My husband and I spent the next several minutes trying to coax our feathered friend to come closer. It was small, brown and looked like a finch or a sparrow. For some time, it continued to chirp and strut back and forth on the kitchen floor.

I watched as my husband Tony gently spoke to it. “It’s alright, little guy. I will help you get outside.” Eventually, my husband was able to pick it up and cradle it in his open hands. Tony continued to gently stroke the bird while I unlatched the doors leading outside to our garden.

Carefully, my husband raised his hands, allowing our visitor to fly to its freedom. We were in awe at the experience that had just unfolded before us. I could not help thinking that what we had witnessed was indeed the sign that Dad prophesied.

The shrill ringing of the telephone jolted us back to reality. It was my husband’s sister from England. “I have bad news: Dad died early this morning. I found him when I went to take him his tea.” We were in shock. He had not been ill.

From that moment on, I became convinced that Dad had visited us on that warm summer day. He was letting us know that he was okay and we were loved. I will always be grateful for our feathered messenger and the wonderful lesson he taught me.

— Gail Sellers —

A Dog’s Diary

5:30am: Started the day as a hero! When the sound of the newspaper hitting the driveway roused me from my deep slumber — the impact indicating the paper was much heavier than normal — I realized that no one in the house was yet awake! I roused my master by licking him in the face. He appeared very angry with himself for having overslept, shouting and waving his arms. His ill temper even seemed directed at me a bit, which is silly since it is I who saved him from being fired. Funny thing though: He didn’t go into work, but spent the morning leafing through the large newspaper and drinking coffee. He seems to do this once a week, and I don’t know why.

7:30am: Invaders! The people who live next door came out into their yard, obviously getting ready to lay siege to our house. Snarling and barking, I let them know in no uncertain terms that I was prepared to tear them from limb to limb it they came any closer, and was able to repel the invasion. This is an almost daily occurrence; you’d think they’d learn. My master added his voice to the fray as well, yelling angrily. I am sure the people couldn’t hear him, but it was nice of him to lend his support.

10:00am: I was forced to move, as the patch of sun in which I was lying had, for some reason, slid over a few feet. It’s not easy being a dog.

1:00pm: I have the most thoughtful master in the world! While it’s true he left me alone in the house for several hours, he did set out a treat for me on the kitchen counter. It was even gift-wrapped, a courtesy I wish he’d skipped, since it led to me having a lot of plastic in my teeth. The roast was delicious, though frozen in the center. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but crunching through two inches of rock-hard beef is hardly my idea of a delicacy.

2:00pm: Most unpleasant experience when my master returned home and was furious that I had not eaten the plastic wrap which had been covering my present. He kept pointing at the small pieces of Styrofoam and other debris and raving in a most irrational fashion. I’m sorry, but he should know that I can’t eat that stuff; it makes my stomach upset. When he began rolling up a newspaper I realized he’d lost all reason and bolted for the front door, which was fortunately open just a crack.

4:00pm: Spent the afternoon with the girls. A most productive day; I was able to mark territory for two blocks. “Drip ’til you drop” is our motto. We had a small snack at an outdoor cafe we like, with meat scraps and bread served out of circular containers with easily displaced lids. Ran into that rogue Sebastian, who lifted his leg with irritating nonchalance — does he think I don’t know about his obsession with Muffy, that snotty schnauzer from down the road? Last month there wasn’t a male in the neighborhood who couldn’t be found outside her fence, and Sebastian was at the head of the pack. I let him know I want nothing more to do with him.

5:00pm-What a treat! On the way home a flock of ravens drew my attention to a squirrel that had been flattened by an automobile. After several days in the sun, the aroma was so delicious it made my nose quiver. I rolled in the wondrous fragrance for several minutes, and when I stood up I positively radiated eau de roadkill. Let Sebastian drool over Muffy — he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

6:00pm: Of all the times to get a bath! My master, still in a foul mood, made me stand outside in the chill air while he shampooed and rinsed me several times. Every time I shook the water from my fur he, too, became drenched, and in the end he was shivering. Why in the world does he do stuff like this?

9:00pm: Time to sleep, though I am not allowed on the bed whenever anyone’s home. Ah, the life of a dog.

Advice from An Old Farmer

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.You cannot unsay a cruel word.Every path has a few puddles.When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.The best sermons are lived, not preached.Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.Don’t judge folks by their relatives.Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.Always drink upstream from the herd.Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

A Shower A Day

I always love to start the morning off with a nice, long shower. Now, I am not talking about a shower with soap, hot water, and shampoo even though I love those too. The shower that I am talking about is the kind that takes place on the inside. The shower that I am talking about is the kind that takes place in the heart, mind, and soul. It is a shower that is best taken daily, all day long, and everyday of our lives. It is a shower of love, joy, and goodness that all of us can enjoy. I always start my own shower off with a huge thank you to God. I thank God for the day, for my life, for my family, for my friends, for my pets, and for the countless blessings I am given. I give thanks for health and happiness, nature and beauty, and love and joy. Giving thanks to God always leaves me feeling good, clean, and happy inside. I don’t stop there, though. I keep my shower of delight going by seeing the good all around me. I see it in the world, in the people I know, and in my own heart, mind, and soul. I see it and choose it and welcome it into me. I take in all the goodness, love, joy, peace, happiness, and light that I possibly can. I fill myself to overflowing with all the wonderful blessings of life, because this is what I want to share with the world. You see, my shower of love, joy, goodness, and delight wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t shower it on others as well. I shower these blessings on others with every smile I smile, hug I give, helpful thing I do, kind word I say, and happy thought I write. Nothing gives me greater fulfillment than to shower these things on everyone everywhere. You too can shower your life and the lives of others with love, joy, goodness, and God. It is up to you. Just remember, though, a shower a day keeps the misery away.

Joseph J. Mazzella