Monday, May 2, 2011


Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem.
~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

The children gather round, blocking my view.   I run outside to see what spectacle holds their attention, and break through the huddle.   A dove has landed in the middle of my walkway, seemingly paralyzed and still as a small statue.      

Because I think he must be wounded I shoo the children away and reach down to stroke soft feathers.   His onyx eyes hold me suspended in a captive irony for a moment in time.   Then gently he lifts and ascends toward the heavens.       

Today, a dove has shown me how to be still, let go of fear, and simply trust.

To Move or Not to Move

She asks for a sign.   Move to North Carolina or stay in Wisconsin?    Sharon sits on the balcony one fine day when a cardinal lands on the right rail, sits and stares a spell, then flies to the other side.   She dares not move.   He must be here by design.    

Quiet and easy, she slips inside and calls the library.  The cardinal, she is told, is the North Carolina state bird… answered prayer?   A Divine sign to make the move… like Noah’s dove?      

Blindness cannot claim my friend’s inner vision.   Katherine may not see a clear outer view but still has eyes of faith and ears to hear… however God may choose to communicate.   

By Katherine Russell Barnes

His heart is in his preaching
My heart is like a stone
It’s Easter, but for me
The service just drones on.

The prayers seem dull;
The anthems have no ring.
The hallelujahs fall
Like hail in spring.

Is there no hope?
Can nothing heal my heart?
I feel the grip of cold despair;
The postlude soon will start.

When just outside the window
A birdsong rends the air,
So full of joy and wild delight
How can I doubt His care? 

Katherine Russell Barnes is an award winning poet and author of two poetry collections, Lifework of the Heart and Treading Water.

Have you ever received a message from any of God’s creatures?
If so, describe your experience.  


  1. when we sit still we can listen to the inner voice that guides us in simplicity and perfection. great post.

  2. Adriana, it is only in sitting still that we hear. The hearing may not come while we sit, but is always comes in time to guide us in simplicity and purity of heart.

  3. It's true, we spend so much time asking and forget to be still and listen, then wonder and get frustrated when answers appear not to come. It's a good reminder. Thank you.

  4. At times I search for my inner voice..and don't hear it..then I feel as if I am getting lost somewhere,but time and again,I am guided by some force which shows the way...great post...

  5. I had 2 doves feeding from my dogs bowl (you know Maximus) Also found them sleeping in the Kennel...
    MMMM that is love!

    Bless you always Debra

    Oh and watch Gladiator! The beginning, where a certain bird represents victory!

  6. @ Marty – I grew up believing that prayer is a one-way street, petition-style only. Now I believe it works both ways. And my ears and heart are always often attuned.

    @ Alpana – What do you suppose this force to be? How would you define it?

    @ Alejandro – First, where have you been lately? Maximus has befriended doves? For real? I do know that sweet dog, the one that hit the "sauce" – or the other way around :) What is Gladiator?

  7. Let me tell you two stories. The first one happened early last spring (2010.) The second one is ongoing.
    Last May for about four weeks EVERY morning as I left for work (usually around 7 AM) there were five fox sitting at the edge of a swampy area on the side of my condo where my car is parked. These fox (three were kits) seemed to be timing their appearance w/mine.

    Finally after this went on for days on end, I decided to see how close I could get to them before the bolted. Each morning for several days I crept closer. They never moved. After about a week of doing this, I finally knelt down at the edge of the swamp, first one of the kits came up to me and sniffed my hand, then one of the adults did the same. Then IMMEDIATELY all five turned and raced away. An AMAZING experience. Crazy and exhilarating at the same time. NEVER saw the family again after that. Three days later as I was walking along the roadside, I saw a dead fox lying on the side of the road. ACTUALLY broke down and cried. Has to be why the fox never returned. I'll carry the experience w/me for the rest of my life. Don't know what made me think I could approach wild animals especially w/babies, but something told me I'd be safe. WOOOOW!

    The other story I have is that the wolf has always been w/me. I'm convinced that my soul animal is the wolf. We share many common traits. Won't delve any deeper here as I've already taken up too much space and time. If you or anyone is interested in more of my wolf stories, you go to my blog. I have two entries about them.

    Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
    Blessings to you.

  8. This is such a beautiful post, Debra. So moving - I have goosebumps...

    Five weeks before my wedding, there was a death in the family in the family, which caused a lot of stress for both of us. It was difficult to move forward with all the plans and grieve at the same time. About two weeks before the wedding, I was climbing the stairs to our apartment and a beautiful bird landed on the railing about one foot in front of me. I stood completely still and our two souls just stayed silent together for about five minutes. I felt it was a gift.

  9. Christopher, for a minute there I thought I’d have to go get Kleenex. The story of the foxes touched my heart. Your emotions ran deep in the writing of this, and were transferred over to the reader. Poignant story, and one you’ll never, ever forget.
    Since everything happens for a reason, why do you think those foxes seemed to be seeking you out? Your instincts didn’t mislead you in thinking you’d be safe.
    I recall reading on your blog that the wolf is your soul animal because of your loyal nature, for one thing. Will go check out the other as well. Interesting.

    @ Kristen, your bird was a gift. Mystical moments like this are ineffable. When you commune with creatures, when you know they come bearing an unspoken message, it somehow changes you. What a beautiful comforter sent to you. What an indefinable moment. Or should I say a defining moment?

  10. Beautiful post. I also went though the comments and Loved the Fox story too.

  11. Sailor, is this the day of the animal?
    Wonder how the fox or the wolf would enjoy the cruise ship?

  12. What a lovely post and comments. A few years ago I'd decided to adopt a kitten. I looked all the kittens over at the rescue center but none captured my heart. I was disappointed as I really wanted a kitten, not a cat. As I walked past a large cage I heard a slight meow and purring. A cat slowly came out of the shadows to the front of the cage put her paw up and gently looked into my eyes. The volunteers told me no one had been able to hold the cat or capture her interest. Long story to short version - Pearl became my companion for the next 9 years. And a wonderful companion she was! Sometimes in life we don't necessarily get what we want - we get something much grander.

  13. It is in that stillness that we find the answers or the truth.... I do look forward to those moments. Rare but they do happen

  14. I believe God can certainly send messengers through Creation and its members. My son, very different from my daughter, callously squishes and crunches things that make me cringe. I try to prevent his destruction towards nature because I believe every creature deserves respect and the chance to live its life unhindered. A spider was climbing on the outside of our living room window a few days ago and I called my son to it. We stood there, rapt in attention, struck with awe at it's delicate beauty, at the fur on it's legs and its detailed frame. I believe it sent my son a message that taught him a new awareness of appreciation towards the bugs he once trampled without care. Honestly, he has not tried squishing one sense. I believe not only can God use creation as messengers but as lessons and teachers.

    A great post...I really enjoyed it. Loved the poem you shared too.

  15. Debra, what a wonderful post and one that reached out to me today.

    We've always had pets in our home; dogs, cats, birds, fish, turtles, etc... When I was 24 I was taking care of my rapidly declining mother who was suffering of a long-term battle with cancer. To give her some companionship while she was at home, I bought a Pomeranian/American Eskimo mix puppy. Brandy stayed with her during the day and kept her company, and when I got home each evening came upstairs to my house (we lived in a duplex, with my unit above hers so I could be nearby).

    My mother passed away in 1995, leaving Brandy completely in my care. Several years later, my wife Shannon and I had moved to a new home and were having some early-marriage difficulties. We were in the middle of a particularly bad argument, and I felt my blood surging as I opened my mouth to say something I knew would end the discussion when in my head I heard my mother's voice loudly tell me "Think before you say it!". I stopped, stunned, and looked down... There was Brandy, looking up at me with her eyes wide.

    Thankfully, I listened to God speaking through that little dog and held my tongue.

    God speaks to us in so many ways, and more than once I've been affected by His creatures impact on my life.

    Brandy turned 17 last month. :-)

    Thank you for the topic Debra, and have a Blessed Day!

    P.S. : The Tao of Pooh is one of my favorite books of all time. I give copies to new employees at my company. :-)

  16. What an inspirational post, one should never give up hope . :)

  17. @ Mari – So Pearl adopted you! She chose you, knowing that you would love and care for her like no other. How true that we often get something much grander than we imagined. I’m glad to hear that you were sensitive and made a decision you wouldn’t regret.

    @ Savira – How right you are. While in the stillness we might not hear anything, but it opens our heart to hear exactly what we need to hear.

    @ Jessica – You are teaching your son compassion for all God’s creatures. At least the spider was climbing on the OUTSIDE of your window! If he’d been inside, I wonder if your reaction would have been different :) I have a spider story too which I might share sometime in the near future. You have inspired it with your response here. Thanks!

    @ Phil - Brandy sounds like your mother’s miracle companion, a gift from you and God to keep her company and lift her spirits during her final days. Your wonderful story of Brandy (and your mom) stepping up just in time - before you blew it! – is the sweetest testimony of love and grace. What a blessing. And happy belated birthday to Brandy, my newest heroine.

    @ Method Mum – Exactly: never give up hope. Thanks for stopping by. Now that I know where to find you I did the same.

  18. Debra,
    I wish I could find that inner peace :(

  19. I think everyday of our lives we have to be alert to signs that tell us something. There are signs everywhere, all we have to do is look for them. Two days before my dad passed away suddenly, I had an early morning dream. My mom's dad who was no more came up to me and asked to my dad. When I asked him why, he said that he had come to take him. I never thought much about it till I got the news two days later that he was no more. Debra, lovely post. I so enjoy reading them. God bless. xoxo

  20. Hi, Debra! I believe God speaks to us through each encounter with everything he has created. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to listen :)

  21. Gladiator the movie with Russel Crowe, lol.
    Maximus is my dog and the doves use his kennel when he is not there, which is pretty much all the time.


  22. Debra, today has been a nerve-wracking day. The Son is studying for finals, we're still trying to solve the roof problem, Roxy was intent on misbehaving and my mother who is having her annual mammogram, called me non stop for reassurance. Hence, it was with great relief that I found respite in reading not only your beautiful post, but the wonderful comments and stories your readers have posted. The message I received from one of God's creatures happened shortly after my nana passed away. I was utterly devastated at the loss and had a very difficult time getting over her death. The grief process took forever and if you can believe this, a day doesn't go by when I don't think about her. One afternoon, after a horrible crying spell, I came downstairs for a breath of fresh air. I thought I'd suffocate if I didn't, I had cried so much. As I opened the blinds, a white dove landed on the railing of our balcony. It sat there, unperturbed even when I opened the glass door. It looked at me and I stared at it; captivated by its presence. For some reason, it provided me with a sense of peace that afternoon. I know that a white dove is associated with a certain symbolism, but in my case, I took it as a sign that nana was at peace and wanted me to find peace as well. Thank you for your words today. They've had quite the soothing effect on my frayed nerves. :)

  23. @Jessica – It’s funny you should say this; I just started writing about this very thing within the pass couple of days. Maybe next week I’ll actually get it out there. It’s about the time I went knock, knock, knocking in search of inner peace. Everybody, deep down, whether they are conscious of it or not is seeking the same. Love and blessings dear one.

    @Rimly – You’re right; we have to be spiritually attuned don’t we? I’ll bet ever since that dream you have paid close attention to your dreams, aye? Dreams can be precognitive, instructional, prophetic… so yeah, I always mind my dreams like children.

    @Samantha – That’s the key: listening! Isn’t that exactly what having ears to hear means?

    @ Alejandro – Oh yeah, The Gladiator FILM with Russell Crowe. He is among my favorites, that actor. I know Max, poor thing. We have blue jays that swoop in and fight the cats while they’re trying to eat in peace. Did you ever see Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds? That’s what it’s like in my back jungle-yard sometimes.

    @Bella – That white dove was no doubt a sign from your nana and God. Doves are symbols of peace, and also of the Holy Spirit, the comforter. And when one lands on the railing and lingers… well, clearly that dove was a messenger sent for you. These are memories we never forget, these moments in time so magical. On the stress level in your life at the present… as my mother always said, “This too shall pass.”

  24. Beautiful post. . .I have rescued many critters but not sure if they "spoke" to me (except maybe a "help"). Now, I am allergic to every little creature with fur or feathers and all I can be in the near vicinty of are snakes, frogs, and lizards! I loved this beautiful post!!! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Pamela, there’s so much to cover in this subject that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one post. Maybe a series or a few sequels later. I say all this because it’s all a matter of tuning in to the critters and learning how to read them. By now I’ve figured out codes my cats and dog have come up with to sneak past me. More later. Fur allergies are all too common. Sorry to hear you can’t pet the cute furry creatures :) I’m not much on cold-blooded critters. My daughter had a turtle that she begged me to kiss, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

  26. I've always believed Erin spoke to me in many ways and I sense her presence after her passing. Whether real or imagined I feel she guides me along the path of life and continues to fuel my flame today. Not sure where I would be without her wisdom but I'm sure it wouldn't be a good place

  27. David, Erin will always be with you. Her presence remains even after she’s physically gone. And she continues to spark the creative flame in your writing. Your tribute to her in your blog is beautiful. Man’s best friend.

  28. Beautiful post!! I do believe in signs...I know nature/God communicates with us, it's for us to keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to receive the right messages...enjoyed reading!

  29. A morning dove is nesting in my back yard and in my blog I spoke of finding it right after finding out that a crane nest with 2 eggs had been washed away. I was feeling down and then seeing this nest with the mother sitting on eggs made me remember that life goes on

  30. I haven't had any encounters such as yours with animals, but my dad did send me a golf ball shortly after his death...he was a golf fanatic. My sisters had both had "signs" from him (one sister had a lizard like the one Dad caught for her when she was a kid show up when she was out in my mom's back yard). I was outside one day and jokingly said "ok Dad you sent vix and dooj a sign, where's mine?" I took two more steps and looked down and there under my foot half buried (right by my front door) was a golf ball...I live in the country and there are no golfers out here. :D I picked that ball up, and it goes everywhere with me now.

    Thanks for sharing such a sensitive and touching post Debra.
    (@jonesbabie on Twitter)

  31. Amen Debra - Our Lord speaks to us through all of his creation - but then not all of his creation writes guest posts like Laska the love kitty does. You were right - our posts were pointed in the same direction. I hear your words Debra. God bless you.

  32. @ Swati – Thank you. Yes, it is up to us to keep our eyes and ears open and do what we were always told to do in school: pay attention.

    @ Jim – Sad about the crane nest and eggs being washed away. I’ll be over shortly to read about and see the mourning doves. Have never seen such crisp photos.

    @ Cath - Your dad sounds like an original to send such unique signs. The golf ball was for sure a sign from him, seeing that there are no golfers where you live.

    @ Craig - No, Laska has the advantage of having a literary master and mentor. I do enjoy his guest posts and admire his intelligence, and think it’s a sign of brilliance how a cat has even learned to sound out words. Amazing! I can see him as the protagonist in children’s books. If I were to write a series starring Laska, I’d of course dedicate it “To the real Laska.” Then the media would be knocking down your door.

  33. Receptivity allows decisive action...

  34. I believe that God's creatures do speak to us and most often we're too preoccupied to hear. I love to listen for the sounds of birds and I'm happy to report that I'm getting more aware of them, as I grow older. :)

  35. Debra its 7.30 a.m. here and this is the first thing I read. It completely made my day. I will start this day feeling like a new person - thank you so much. I once healed a wounded sparrow that had fallen on my deck. Nothing significant happened but I felt blessed right from the core.

  36. @ Cathy – Indeed it does. Added my line to the story.

    @ Corinne – Bird songs are to music to my ears. I hope I’m never too preoccupied to hear. Same here; the older I get the more beautiful their sound.

    @ Kriti – How did you heal the wounded sparrow? You must have taken him “under your wing” and nurtured him. What a blessed experience. Hope to read more about this story in an upcoming post.

  37. I remember once being so sick at heart that I became physically ill. My cat, who usually was a bit standoffish, cuddled with me and never left my side, that is, until I had the sense enough to see a doctor who eventually admitted me into a hospital. I thought of it as a sign from Above that I was loved at a time when I felt unloved, or was the cat attracted to the warmth of my fever? :-)

  38. Sweepy, this cat was a godsend to see you through that dark sad time. His out-of-character cuddling just goes to show he was one of those miracle pets. But I’m sorry you ever had to endure such emotion pain as to be hospitalized. I trust that you have found inner healing now.

  39. "However God may chose to communicate", wow, I just love that! I think I've run into many creatures of communication, and also I think just nature in general... like when things are tough and then a beautiful sunrise is created. Or a spectacular sunset to cap off a day.

  40. Debra, so nice of you to visit my blog.

    You write beautifully. This post reminded me of a time when my husband and I were having severe financial problems. One evening a flock of doves flew around our home and landed in our front yard. They remained there for a long time, in spite of the fact that we sat on the steps and watched them (meditated) during their prolonged stay. The message - all will be well. And it was.

  41. @ Sheila – oh yes, nature speaks… a beautiful sunset… afternoon sunlight falling through trees… the face of a round white moon… and on I could go on the myriad ways God communicates through nature.

    @ Myrna – how amazing that the flock of doves showed up just in time… and by their presence echoed the message of Julian of Norwich. "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

  42. This is a beautiful post, Debra. Thank you for it.

    I just wish I knew what the meaning of the two pigeons who seem to love our balcony is.

  43. Thanks Dave. Those two pigeons are coming to your balcony hoping to hear some of your outlandish music pics :)

  44. Your post took my breath away, to be honest. It was the last thing I expected this morning. I wasn't in a pause and reflect frame of find, rather I was gulping down javA and munching on a Zone bar making ready for the work email inbox. I wanted to walk away and come back, later... but. I don't think the feeling you described is limited to animals, sometimes I feel (and no I am not a crazy person) but I am strangely empathic in nature, and oft feel the force of energy, either pushing me towards or away from something. My will is stronger and is the deciding factor on whether or not I take heed.


  45. Brenda, I’m glad to hear that, even though you weren’t in a pause and reflect mood, you took the time to read and then share your most welcome thoughts. Many – as do I – feel empathic with all of nature, and not just the animals. As far as I am from pantheistic thinking, I do believe that the divine presence of God can be seen in all of creation, if one is attuned. Thanks again for allowing me to interrupt your morning routine :)

  46. oh debra... i consider 'a white butterfly' my friendly messenger of hope... it started when my spiritual director died when i was twenty three... i considered him the reader of my soul... and whenever i spoke to God of despair, He always seems to send me this white butterfly to lift up my spirits... it never fails til now ;)

  47. Melissa, how beautiful... a white butterfly messenger of hope. I had a spiritual director who moved,and how devastated I was:(

  48. Thanks for the comment! And the real writer behind my blog is My Sweet Wife. So all the credit goes to her. I just give her the in put and the pictures.

  49. Sailor, she must be amazing.

  50. Debra, this was lovely! I wrote not too long ago about having a challenging day, full of frustrations, and the message to persevere and smile through was given to me via a Smiley face sticker that was hung on the bushes next to our mailbox station in my neighborhood. I laughed out loud at that puckish, delivered with a twinkle to the eye message. Divine Touch comes to me almost daily; the key is to be aware enough to not overlook it, as it comes in some of the most unexpected, unorthodox, thoroughly delightful forms.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...