A few times each week I lace up my sneakers and run on the treadmill that sits in our basement next to a small half-window. The window faces out onto the driveway and doesn’t really offer much by way of view or natural light. Occasionally a squirrel, or sometimes a chipmunk, will skitter past the window, but for the most part, my early morning runs are solitary ventures. Just me, some music, the whir of the treadmill, and the pounding of my feet.
Yesterday morning, however, I had a visitor. A tiny brown bird – a finch or a wren perhaps (I don’t really know much about birds) – scuttled up to the window and peered in, looking from side to side curiously. She stayed for about a minute or two, just long enough and close enough for us to share a morning greeting.
Later that day, while carrying some old books to the garage, I heard a soft thud. Thomp…thomp…thomp…I looked up from my box of books to see a tiny brown bird (the same one from the morning?) flying into a closed window. Trapped inside the garage, she was frantically trying to flee through what she thought was the only way out.
Poor thing, I thought. Trapped inside the garage, banging her head into what she perceived as the only way out, she was now face-to-face with an unfamiliar and scary creature (i.e., me).
No sooner had I dropped the books and scrambled over to shoo her out the door, however, than she was gone, making her escape through the door that I had just opened.
Phew, was my obvious first thought. The last thing I needed was a dead bird in my garage, killed in her own attempts to escape the trap that I had likely created by inadvertently closing the garage door while she was inside.
My second thought, however, was a bit more mystic and metaphorical: Was this some kind of Sign?
Now, I’m not even sure if I believe in supernatural Signs necessarily. I know that I don’t see Jesus in a piece of toast or Buddha on a tree trunk after a hard rain. I don’t believe in a god that speaks in some kind of cryptic language that requires a special decoder ring. But ghosts and angels? Maybe. Premonitions and omens? Perhaps. Cosmic energy and intuition? Certainly.
I know that I do believe that the universe is completely random while at the same time intricately coordinated, all playing out in some kind of symbiotic way that we can’t quite understand. And I do believe that the Universe or God or the Spirit or what-have-you speaks to us whenever we are ready to listen. And I also believe that sometimes strange things happen and sometimes ordinary things happen, and it is in our willingness to be open to our own intuition and the wild ways of the Universe that we give these strange and ordinary things significance.
When you get down to it, though, I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether there are Signs or omens or supernatural insights; what matters is what we do with this new perspective, this unfolding of Life before us.
And, now, thanks to that little bird, I know that I will be looking a little more closely for doors that might be opening, albeit with something unfamiliar and a little scary, and I’m definitely going to stop banging my head against windows that lead nowhere.
Do you believe in Signs or omens?