Sentinel

I’m not a superstitious person. But I know a sign when I see one. 

Cardinals might not be rare birds, as such. But they are widely recognized–across many cultures–as spirit messengers. Where I come from, most folks believe they are the presence of a lost loved one coming to say hello. Some Native American cultures think they signal a shifting relationship, or a change in the weather. For others, they might be marking a path or giving direction. 

Whether they bring a warning or a promise of good things might be up for debate. But between their color and the sound that they make, they are not to be ignored. While a passing ‘bird on a wire’ sighting might not always feel significant, these feathered friends sometimes appear to me in really strange ways or places. When that happens, I pay attention.

The other day, I had a visitor in my office. He flew in through the open door behind me, just as I was arriving for the morning. He declined my offer of coffee, but camped out on a shelf for awhile and asked to borrow a book. 

Hell if I know what he wanted. But with an appearance so close to Pentecost, I have to believe it was some Holy Spirit something.

Where I come from, we write songs about these things. Here’s this one. (I need my brother to arrange and make it sound like something. But it is totally an Appalachian folk tune in my head. Preferably with Natalie Maines singing instead of me). 

 

Comes a message, comes a sound

Comes a sign when nobody’s around

Comes too close and stays too long

To be a mistake or a flight gone wrong

 

A flash of red, a wing and a prayer

A dash of color on empty air

A cardinal song, a wake-up call

To watch where you step before you fall.

 

Comes in the morning, comes a cry

Comes a warning or a hope in the sky

But you can’t not see it and you can’t not hear

The promise that something is coming clear

 

Lands on the porch, waits at the door

Comes on in like he’s been here before

Flies up to the shelf and looks around

Comes a message, comes a sound

 

Comes in the morning, comes a cry

Comes a warning or a hope in the sky

But you can’t not see it and you can’t not hear

The echo of something coming near

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