Through you, Nature becomes Aware of Itself.Eckhart Tolle
There are many ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein
Signs and symbols. They seem to be abundant at times, and then sometimes not. For me, it feels like I’m much more aware of their presence when I am slowed down. The quieter I am, the more “tuned in,” “in the flow,” and appreciative “there are no coincidences,” I am. The clock is often at 11:11 or 3:33.
And then there is the hard side of that reality, which is having felt that connectivity at times, and then not feeling it, but wanting to. Or worse, needing to. I have been in both places.
After my dad died, there was quite a display in the ocean right off of our cottage, including rainbows and a shark and dozens of diving pelicans all day long. I stepped outside with a relative to show her the display of soaring, diving, and feeding birds. It was a spectacle beyond description. She turned to me and said, “My son sends us rainbows; now you’ve got your pelicans.”
With no pelicans up north, I often feel that “pelican presence” in Canadian geese or lakegulls. The formation of the birds had always been the mesmerizing piece to my air force flight instructor father, so many representations can fit that bill for me. The question is: am I making something of nothing, or is there really something there? And that is where two factors come in, in my humble opinion:
First, is that we are human and we are oriented toward doubt and scrutiny of belief. Or at least I am. It’s called overthinking, which is precisely why I work on this practice of getting out of my head. As my friends and family and those who know me well can tell you, it is a practice that is far from perfection. It’s all about returning to your heart, and easy to drift back to our thoughts and unconscious living. It’s a practice of return; every day, every hour, every minute, every moment.
With my mom there were double rainbows and butterflies. She was buried with a butterfly that I’d found at the beach in her hand. Now they appear everywhere; a mile off shore they fly onto a boat I’m on; yesterday as I went to write this, one fluttered right to me. It’s crazy. Lotta pictures of them texted between me and my siblings.
In January I was walking with my brother, and my sister was on speaker phone, all in town to sort through my mom’s “estate,” (namely a childhood home full of memories.) As we were walking down the street, a service vehicle with a gargantuan monarch butterfly drove past us. And then, it turned in the driveway right in our path, only to backup and turn back in the direction from which it came. What the heck? Dead of winter and the biggest butterfly you have ever seen–4 foot wingspan- turned and stops right in our path. I think one of us said, “You’ve got to be kidding me, while the other said, “Hello Mom.”
The key is to have faith, or as Einstein says, “to believe in miracles.” I am a believer that the more I can get out of my head and into my heart, where that bigger than me lives, the way better directed I am. And remembering to have faith, which is different than knowledge. Just like courage is being scared and doing something anyway; faith is not knowing and believing anyway.
I often think about the scandal that came out in Time magazine years ago, after Mother Teresa’s death and her journals were found. I think they were even published. (Ugh. Not nice!) Mother Teresa wrestled with doubt, and apparently went long periods of time not feeling God’s presence. The article, if I remember correctly, jumped all over her faithlessness. What a joke. She clearly went long periods of time not feeling any sort of divine connection, but she wrestled that doubt out on paper, during long dark nights of her soul. And, by day, she went about doing her work… in good faith, might I add.
Yesterday I was planning on writing about something else. Then a butterfly flew by. I went to take a picture for my sister, but the phone rang. It was her, thinking of me. When we got off I decided I would write about signs and intuition, and as I did a friend called inviting me to stop by a book signing last night on the very subject, in Winnetka, during the exact time when I needed to be waiting out a lacrosse practice down there.** Life’s funny like that sometimes. To me, it feels a lot better and less arbitrary when I am in the flow, tuned into these universal efficiencies.
“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the future.” ~ Francis P. Church
That’s where the meditation and peace come in. It doesn’t matter how you get to a place of stillness and receptivity; it is just important to do so. Simply said, you are going to feel it more when you’re aware.
4-7-8 breathing, alternate nostril breathing, outdoor exercise (without headphones) or silent meditations; there are many ways to get out of your head. Just a personal observation: the more you clear your head and open you mind, the more you are going to feel connected to the signs and symptoms of the universe. An untuned instrument makes noise, a tuned one makes music. It is worth tuning…
‘If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is,’ Steve Jobs told biographer, Walter Isaacson. If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does there’s room to hear more subtle things—that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”
This day, practice awareness. Through breathing technique, walking or exercise without headphones, to name a few. Listen, keep our eyes open, and be inspired.
** The book talk was with Joe McQuillen, one of the fathers of the five Winnetka boys lost in an accident in an icy lake three years ago. The book is called “My Search for Christopher on the Other Side,” and about how Joe and his wife have found connection, hope and love through meditation and mediums. Joe is passionate about pursuing metaphysical connection with lost loved ones; if you are, it is well worth checking out his local story and resources. www.mysearchforchristopher.com