The Found Feathers Origin Story

The inaugural Found Feathers: Your Sacred Invitation episode shared the inspiration for the series, based on my story of a found feather, a divine nod that communicated clearly that I had indeed been heard. A pristine and perfect red-tailed hawk feather had found me, in the midst of the wet mud, delivering up a message I badly needed to hear that day.  I had also mentioned in that post that it wasn’t my first feather. The original feather, the one that firmly set me on the synchronistic path of openness, trust, and believing, had arrived over five years prior.

A Divine Connection

Linda, my aunt’s wife, and I had a spiritual connection that transcended genetics since we didn’t share a bloodline. She was an industrious bohemian who wore a toolbelt as heavy as she and had a smile that suggested she knew something you didn’t. She was Italian, dark, and petite, in contrast to my European paleness and height. She was a nonconformist and I, a vigilant rule-follower. And yet, our souls spoke the same language and we shared a love for bells, dangly things, nature, and good music.

The Birds Called

In August 2011, her stage 4 cancer diagnosis shocked us all. Immediate treatments showing no effect, she chose to ride it out on her own. Just before Christmas, she announced she’d be coming for a visit. Hospice forbade the eight-hour car drive and true to form, she politely invited them to discharge her from their care and when she arrived, they had already sent supplies to my home. No one could say no to her.

Whenever we spoke on the phone, she loved hearing the hawks screech and chwirk from on high in my backyard. “Karl,” she said as she planned her trip, “we need to sit outside and listen to our hawks, and then go find us some feathers.” 

When my aunt gently eased Linda’s tiny body from their car, I knew a feather quest was not going to happen. Instead, we spent a few precious days together making food her tummy could tolerate, indulging her desire to have a sip of the best chardonnay we could find, and helping manage her morphine. We did hear our hawks out in the distance, which sparked a knowing, wistful smile upon her tired face.

Synchronicity is an ever-present reality for those who have eyes to see.”
~ Carl Jung ~

They left to get her back home in time to share Christmas with her closest friends.  We spoke a few more times, her voice suggesting she was slowing fading, perhaps preparing to move on to her next place. Two weeks later, she was gone.

I slept hard the night she moved on. Next morning, for some reason I cannot recall, I left through the front door rather than through the garage like usual. Perfectly centered on our welcome mat was a long, beautifully striped sable and white feather. Having never actually seen a hawk feather, I wasn’t sure if (but I was) that’s what laid at my feet. But the chances? The hawks hung in the backyard, not the front. My porch was covered, not open. I almost never used the front door but did unthinkingly that morning. It didn’t make sense, but it did.

She’d found her feather. And she’d given it to me.

In every moment the Universe is whispering to you.”
~ Denise Linn ~

There was simply no denying it. I felt it in my bones, and I just knew, in the way you know something without knowing how you know it. I’d always loved listening to the hawks but that day, it became more than that. It was listening to her saying good morning, or singing loudly, or feistily chasing away the other birds who’d dared enter her space. She showed up everywhere: on my way to work, outside my office window, a few times literally sitting on the stop sign right by my house as if to say, “Stop! Just making sure you know I’m here.” 

That was the first of many feathers that have found me over the years, no doubt orchestrated by her, arriving at just the right time when I most needed a reminder to stop, pause, breathe, listen, and know I was not alone.

And this is how it began – love, followed by loss, then love once again. Love in a new shape and with a different voice, but one that I recognize in my soul. 

Happy Birthday, Linda, and thank you.