It was an unexpected gift to begin with, this pretty little Christmas package handed to me by my sweet sister/friend, Cindy.
Shall I? I asked, trying my best to sneak a peak down into the bag.
She smiled rather slyly. Yes she said. Open it now, so I can watch you.
Out from the bag came a book so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Right there on the cover, a magnificent feather.
Of course I knew you had to have it she said as I turned the book over in my hands, my heart filled with wonder.
What are feathers?
How did they evolve?
What do they mean to us?
These are the questions the book jacket posed, questions answered by biologist and author Thor Hanson.
I will read every word I said, knowing this book held much more for me than mere science. I believe feathers are messages from God, you see, messages of comfort that began appearing in my life three years ago, when we faced such challenges with my Mother. Her health diminishing, our despair growing, I would say to God: I am overwhelmed. I don’t know how to do this. And feathers would appear, tiny feathers that fell from nowhere, giant feathers (when my faith required a more grand gesture), perfect feathers, and feathers worn and tattered, appearing here and there and everywhere—little signs of love and reassurance left just for me, I believed, in the most unexpected places.
It happened time after time after time. So often, in fact, I started to chronicle them in photographs and on this blog. I came to whole-heartedly believe the scripture that found its way to me in ways just as surprising as the feathers:
He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
On February 2, 2013, my Mother died without ever knowing the significance of feathers in my life. In planning her funeral we were awestruck to discover she had chosen On Wings of Eagles as the service music. It is a song, the hymn notes tell you, based on Psalm 91:4—the feather scripture. What’s more, she had documented that choice eight years earlier.
When I sat down to write a note to tell Cindy just how much her thoughtful gift of Feathers meant to me, I picked up the book and flipped through the opening pages. I nearly lost my breath when I happened upon the author’s dedication.
My mother’s name.
FEATHER STORIES OF NOTE
the things that we believe in (September 7, 2011)
Feathers, Friends and Sweet Little Nudges (November 6, 2011)
coming home (May 28, 2012)
here, there, everywhere (July 25, 2012)
unforced rhythms of grace (August 29, 2012)
Miracles (December 6, 2012)
with his feathers (February 17, 2013)
oh wow. (December 11, 2013)