Blessings of Grace from the Birds
By Allen and Linda Anderson
People are constantly having experiences with dogs, cats, and horses, and consequently observe them more often. But some of our favorite stories are about birds in nature. Not trained to do human bidding or interested in living in anyone’s homes, when wild birds offer gifts, they are blessings of grace.
Brad Abendroth, bird-watching enthusiast and nature photographer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota sent us a story about his unexpected experience with a bird that showed an extraordinary depth of gratitude.
During our lunch hours and breaks, I always used to like feeding shelled peanuts to birds from my car. When I came outside, I would have a crowd of birds hanging out on a red pine near the spot where I always parked. Other birds, such as blue jays, chickadees, and white-breasted nuthatches would be waiting as well.
A Northern Cardinal I named Cy, after the Iowa State Cyclone mascot, was very comfortable with me, so I could always get pretty close to him. I started feeding Cy at least seven years ago. In five or so years, I saw him through experiencing a couple of bald phases, losing all his tail feathers, attracting a mate, and having offspring.
Two years ago, Cy eventually went missing. I didn’t see him for four to six months. I thought another male might have pushed him out of his territory. Either that, or Cy had passed away. I continued to feed the cardinals but I knew none of them was Cy. On a walk one day, I found Cy again on the other side of the lake near my office. Since then, I would always make an effort to see him during my lunch hours.
After our company moved I didn’t make it over to the lake anymore, until one late-summer day. I was running some errands and decided to stop at the lake. I hadn’t come prepared with peanuts in my pocket as I usually do. I tried to attract some warblers. Then I heard the familiar chirping of a cardinal that grew louder and louder. Within moments, Cy appeared from out of the brush.
I apologized to him that I had no peanuts. Do I get back to work now? Or should I return late, drive to the grocery store, and return to feed Cy? I decided to get some peanuts. Cy followed me back down the path, chirping away.
When I returned to the lake, it didn’t take long for Cy to fly toward me again along that narrow path. He was chirping his little heart out. I placed a pile of shelled peanuts along the path for him. He ate very well. I love that bird.
A White Dove for Gunner and Tootsie
Joe and Jean Jeffries live in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. Their romance and marriage story is not only one of their falling in love but of blending their dog family. Tootsie was Jean’s dog, and Gunner was an ex-show dog who belonged to Joe. The two pups had very different personalities. Gunner was quieter and more focused on mealtime than Tootsie, who was bouncy and easily distracted.
Joe and Jean wrote in the story they sent to us, “We called Gunner and Tootsie the kids. They loved to play ball and tug of war and to go for walks. Tootsie never missed a chance to be the boss and would tease Gunner until he could ignore her no longer. A couple of times she pushed Gunner too far, nipping at his ear and growling, and he gave a swat to make her leave him alone. Their disagreements didn’t last too long, and they were soon best buddies again.”
Gunner was a little over fourteen years old when he died. “We missed him so much, Joe and Jean wrote. “Every Monday night we would light a candle and remember our special Gunner Dog. Needless to say, Tootsie then became even more pampered. Soon after Gunner was gone, Tootsie took a bad fall. In a dream Tootsie visited Jean. The dog wagged her tail and said, “Please, oh, please, I want to go see Gunner now.”
Joe and Jean write the rest of the story:
We kept Gunner and Tootsie’s cremains with the intent to bury them when we planted a couple of new bushes in front of our house to honor the two dogs. Weeks and months went by until we finally decided what to do. We would refurbish our rock garden. We ordered two special six-inch rectangular stones and had the kids’ names and paw prints etched on them.
On Monday, October 11, 2010, we were talking with our gardeners and our neighbors and sharing stories of our kids with them. We told them we had decided to put both cremains in the same spot, as Gunner and Tootsie had been inseparable during all those wonderful years they were with us.
A white dove swooped down over Jean’s head and perched on our garage door roof. We were all first stunned and then completely mesmerized by this beautiful small bird with white wings. This beautiful bird was very calm, staring down at us. The dove stayed for five minutes and then flew off as quietly and quickly as it appeared.
That evening we couldn’t stop talking about the white dove appearing just as we were preparing to bury Gunner and Tootsie’s cremains, which had been stored in boxes from our veterinarian. The next day, Joe returned the boxes to the vet and told her about the white dove. She said, “It was the kids.”
White doves are not a native or common bird in Iowa. Nor are they typically kept in cages as pets. This dove was definitely sent to us by the kids who wanted us to know they were doing just fine.
What are your blessings of grace from the animal kingdom?
Allen and Linda Anderson are authors of a series of books about the spiritual connection between people learn from their fifteen years of publication. Visit www.allenandlindaanderson.com to check out Woof, Meow, Write, Publish: Writing about and Animals for Love and Money. Subscribe to the Andersons’ free, online newsletter at www.angelanimals.net and follow them on Facebook and Twitter@angelanimals.