Friday, November 27, 2015

I Saw a Cardinal

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way".”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

When I was 7 I saw a cardinal.  I’d never seen a cardinal before.  It was on a telephone wire or a tree. I’m not sure. I just know it was a cardinal and it was red and beautiful. I don’t even know how I knew it was a cardinal, but I did. I was in the back yard of my Aunt Marie’s house in Blue Island, Illinois.  Though my aunt and my mom each had three children and I think we were all there, I was alone in the back yard and I saw a cardinal. Life is full of miracles, like cardinals.  It would have been nice to share that moment with someone, but maybe I was sharing it with God then and I’m sharing it with the world now.
I’ve never seen a cardinal since then.  Not once.  I think that’s odd.  No, I don’t live in Illinois anymore, and they aren’t native to California, but I’ve never even seen one at a zoo, or when I’ve gone back to Illinois (always in the winter for some reason).  But I’ve never forgotten that moment. Was there significance to that moment?  Maybe there’s significance to every moment, but most of the time we just don’t see it. We limit ourselves. We limit our vision. At least I often do. I miss things.
I had a hard time writing this morning.  I couldn’t get focused.  I read.  I cleaned.  It took me hours to finish three pages.  Maybe some days are like that.  Today was.  But I wanted to write.  Writing, for me, makes this moment significant.  It makes this moment count.  It counts not just because I’m producing something, though that is nice.  It counts because writing reminds me of many other significant moments in my life, like when I saw that cardinal or when I wrote my 150th blog, or when I met my Muse, or right now when I look out my window and see the cloudy gray day and the seagull in the tree. 
The seagull of course reminds me of the book Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.  It’s a short book that can be read in one sitting.  The story is about a seagull who wants to do more than survive.  He believes there is more to life than picking through garbage and getting the scraps of life.  He wants to fly, really fly.  He has wings and he wants to use them to soar.  It’s not that he looks down on those who don’t.  He just wants more. He tells others and of course, he’s told that he’s foolish and wrong.  We all are.  We’re cautioned.  We’re warned.  We’re told we’re going against God, against tradition, against common sense. We’re told that we’re hurting those we love.  Maybe in reality we hurt others when we don’t fly.
I haven’t read Jonathan Livingston Seagull in years. I don’t think I even have a copy of it now.  So I don’t remember how it ends.  But he flies.  I think he finds Heaven.  I don’t mean he dies, but maybe he does.  Before I started writing, I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  A voice said, “Relax.  You’re on vacation.  It’s your life.  You’ll kill yourself doing all this writing.  You’ll die.”  Then another voice said, “If a man wants to live, he has to give up his life for Me.”  That was Jesus.  I’m not equating Jesus with writing.  But I think God is in this.  It’s okay if I give up my life for this, because this is where I find my life.  So I’m not dying.   I’m living.  I’m not losing.  I’m gaining. I’m not giving up anything.  I’m getting something, something precious, something significant, something beautiful, like a cardinal.
Here’s something else that’s significant and beautiful: life.  Recently, my cousin Cindy died.  She was the oldest daughter of Aunt Marie, but a year younger than me.  She died suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a huge loss for a lot of people. She wasn’t rich or famous, but she was one of the kindest, most patient, most loving people I’ve ever known. She gave of her time kindly and freely. She made her life significant by loving and caring for others. And she made it beautiful for those who knew her.
It is said that life is a gift. It’s not. We can keep gifts.  Life is a loan.  And it can be taken back at any moment. What do we do then? We can do whatever we want, but I’d like to make the loan count for something.  Like Cindy.  Like Jonathon Livingston Seagull.  Like a cardinal. I’d like to Get Started and Keep Going. I’d like to soar when I can as often as I can.