Publisher's note: One of my consistent spiritual stirrings are heart shapes, and I see them every day. Look harder and you may find your signs are there right in front of you. Below is republished with permission directly from Joyce Rupp. Jeanne Wall
Reflection – September 2019
Do you wonder, at times, how it is that the Spirit moves in your life? I am often astounded at this engaging manifestation. Long ago, the appearance of feathers became a significant symbol for my inner journey. It all began in Boulder, Colorado in 1993 when studying transpersonal psychology. One day I returned to my residence and found a feather lying in the bathtub. Its presence stunned me. How could it have gotten in there? No window was open. No one else had been in the room. There were no feather pillows.
That experience began an ongoing awareness of spiritual stirrings. I wrote about this in Dear Heart Come Home: “A woman who practices Native American spirituality mentioned a feather as her key image. She described how the feather came from a creation myth that promises whenever two-legged creatures are on their spiritual path, following their passion, they will find a feather in their path.” At the time I discovered the feather in the bathtub I was experiencing a lot of personal change. The following year, when I moved from Colorado, I went forth with a much clearer perception of my transformative process.
Last year I noticed feathers showing up everywhere at the very time some serious decision making enveloped me. A feather even came in the postal mail. A chaplain in the Northeast sent a shiny crow’s feather as a gift, with the message, “Crow medicine has led me through many dark moments, as well as shown the light of hope amid the uncertain and unknown in my life.” The arrival of that black piece of a wing encouraged me to trust the decision I eventually made.
Later that same month I recorded an amazing incident in my journal: “So weary yesterday. After sitting by the woods overlooking the lake, I walked down to the beach where a large flock of terns had gathered. Feathers and more feathers. As I plodded along, I saw a long white one with a wide black edge—so exquisite I picked it up to behold it more closely. I thought to take it home with me, but something in me disagreed: “Leave it there.” So I stooped over and gently placed the feather back on the ground. No sooner had I walked ten steps away than an astonishing thing happened. My tiredness completely vanished. I felt an instant resurgence of energy.” Upon sharing this with a friend the next day, she suggested, “Maybe it was not the feather but the action of letting go that restored your energy.” Her keen insight helped me acknowledge that it was time to let go of my heavy schedule of traveling for conferences and leading retreats, to gently lay down that way of life and move forward.
I am obviously not done with feathers. This summer they continually appeared on my daily walks. When I looked down or ahead I spotted varied sizes, shapes and colors—an ebony one in San Antonio, tiny pink in Northwest Iowa, bright blue in Illinois, and at least five dozen on sidewalks during a week in the seaside town of Tremore, Ireland. They assured me to stay aware to what stirs within, to move spiritually with the free spirit of the German mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, who exclaimed, “I am like a feather on the breath of God.”
What or who keeps showing up for you—people, nature, creatures or something else— what keeps reminding you to be aware of the Spirit’s energizing movement in your life?