August 28, 2000
The Cardinal's Message
When the cardinal appears, its message is that we are being watched over.
I first knew about the cardinal about thirteen years ago, when a friend died. He was much like family to me. Not too long after his death, his widow told me that a single cardinal had landed on a branch outside her kitchen window, and had stared at her for a very long time. Her husband had always been particularly fond of the beautiful red birds. Slowly, as she watched, she realized the cardinal was letting her know that her husband had sent him or was him....to let it be known all was well. And to remind her she was being watched over.
A few years later, I was looking out the kitchen windows at my mother's house, watching as preparations were being made for a wedding reception in a nearby courtyard. The bride was the goddaughter of my bird-loving friend. As I watched the preparations, I noticed a cardinal. He was sitting on a limb, staring straight into my eyes. He held very still, making sure I knew he was there. I immediately remembered the earlier story, and knew the significance. I told members of his family who were at the wedding. I was sure the message was that all was well, and the bride and those who loved her were being watched over. Why was I chosen to receive the message? Proximity, my relationship with the family, and that I'm known to have a good memory.
Four years ago, when my mother was dying, I was talking with my boss, the legal assistant at the law firm where I worked. We were in her office, and I was facing the window. All of a sudden, a cardinal landed on a branch just outside. He stared at me, as before. I knew the message. We were being watched over, and though there was much sadness, we were not alone.
Two years ago, my boss had to make the decision to euthanize her elderly dog, who had come to work with her nearly every day for the prior eighteen months. During the week prior to the dog's death, we were all sad, of course, because we were going to lose our friend. I had, earlier in the year, realized that I had misplaced a small cross that the widow had given me when my mother was first ill. I had always kept it in my raincoat pocket---it was one made to be kept in a pocket.
About the middle of the week, I needed something that was in the back seat of my car. I was truly startled to find the cross there. There was no logical reason for it to be there; the coat pocket it had been in was a deep pocket, and not one I usually kept anything else in that I would have reached for in the car.
The next day, I told my boss about finding it, and said, "let me know if you see a cardinal." She gave me a funny look, and said one had been sitting outside her kitchen window that morning; that her husband had noticed him first, and had called her attention to the bird. The bird stared at her till he was sure she had seen him, then flew away. She had known the story of the earlier appearances, but hadn't made the connection. I'm convinced that I found the cross when I did so that I would think to ask her about seeing a cardinal. And so I could remind her that his appearance meant we were being watched over, and though there was again much sadness, we were not alone.
I hadn't seen the cardinal again until earlier this month. He came to one of the shrubs outside my apartment, and stared till he was sure I was looking at him. The message was to let me know that I and those I love are being watched over, in the middle of all the sadness. We are not alone.
The person I most needed to share this message with has heard it. I wanted to remind him, and to share it with the rest of you.