On Friday February 21, 2014 I brought my daughter home from school due to illness at around 10:30 am. As I got her settled on the couch, ginger ale in hand with her tv show up and running, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a barn owl in my backyard. The owl (see above photo), a female, sat quiet, squinting her eyes. I assumed she was sleeping as it was day time. I felt blessed that she had made a presence and that maybe she felt comfortable being near us. To have this near perfect, mystical bird adorning our yard was almost dream like. I let her be, keeping my animals inside away from her.
As the day turned into night and she was still here, I began to wonder if something might be wrong. Then she fell over into our spa. I ran outside, gently scooped her up with a towel into my arms, and dried her off. I ran inside and got dry blankets, and a heating pad. I stacked the towels up, putting the heating pad underneath them on low, and ever so carefully set her down. I called a wildlife rehab center and they instructed me to bring her in the morning. I could see that her wing was bloodied from above. When I went back outside, she was breathing very slow and shallow. She attempted to spread her wings one last time, and let out a big breath, before her body relaxed and curled up. I hovered my hands above her body, prayed with all of my soul as her body began to stiffen. My tears flowed hard– she died by my side. We named her Red.
Her death surprised me and shook me up. If you know me, you know that I am a very passionate about nature. I believe that God brings you messages through his creatures. I could say to myself, “It was just a coincidence that she ended up in my backyard,” or “She just happen to land her after being injured.” I can’t do that–how horrible would life be if we went around telling ourselves these things? For me, I would shrivel up, or die of boredom.
No, instead I believe that she was here for a reason. A symbol of my life–all of our lives. I believe she was a messenger from God, and that she knew I would gently care for her during her last moments here on earth. Call me a crazy, I don’t care–but she was in my life (even though it was brief) for a reason.
Owls can navigate through the darkness, they are mysterious, spiritual, and strong. They are amazing parents, and masters at keeping pests at bay. In some cultures they represent major changes in your life, or the death of the way your life is presently. I am not scared of change, I welcome it, and I am honored that she landed in our yard. So honored that I felt compelled to write this poem:
Soul of the Night
She navigates through the darkness,
She persuades in the darkness,
She is most herself in the darkness,
I should have recognized your pain–I am familiar,
The torment you endured that light day,
Your grace and acceptance were so quiet-
I almost missed you calmly slipping away-
Your true essence fading into the arms of God,
Your wings are now one with the sky,
Is heaven lightless for you?
That shadowy place you call home?
The light of day is no place for you,
Your breath would continue, but your heart would fade away,
You are among the other mysterious beauties of the night-
Soaring and full of energy in your eternal kingdom of darkness,
Your power and symmetry are sorely missed here in the drudgery of earth,
Until we meet again wise soul,
My gratitude that you selected this as your last resting place will not be forgotten,
May your gallantry and dignity live within my heart for the rest of my days.
We have written poetry…
We have drawn many pictures and written letters…
We have made memorials, burned candles to remind us of your light, talked about where you are, and who you were. But the truth is, we still cry for the loss of you, weep that the world has changed in your absence, and long for you to come back and grace this earth with your power.
You are a symbol of any one of us, and the fragility of life–you mattered and you will be missed.