It snuck in behind my back.  That should have been my first clue. 

When I take a long walk in the morning I don’t walk a loop as that would require me to finish my walk on a very busy road with very little room for pedestrians.  So instead, I usually walk on the backroads out to a point about an hour or so away, and then I simply turn around and retrace my steps back home.  If I feel especially ambitious I can push on farther, but most days I do my about-face at the same spot. 

On a recent walk, shortly after I turned around, I noticed something up ahead that wasn’t there when I passed by just twenty minutes or so earlier.  It was something large enough to be noticeable from several hundred yards away.  As I closed the gap I became sure that it was some type of large bird, perched on a fencepost.  I suspected a hawk, but the large size had me wondering.  I kept my eyes on it as I approached, certain that whatever it was, it would take off long before I got too close, but I was sure that I could still identify it by its silhouette and flight.  But, as I neared, it didn’t budge.

I slipped my sunglasses off when I had closed the distance to fifty yards, so they wouldn’t distort the coloring.  A few steps closer and I was certain now that it was a turkey vulture.  To my surprise he sat tight, although he did slowly turn his head to watch me as I walked by, a mere ten feet or so from him.  I tried not to take it personally!

I know someone who is convinced that every time she sees a cardinal that it is a sign from a family member who has passed away that their love lives on.  Perhaps; I can’t say for sure, and nothing would be gained from convincing her otherwise.  We have a number of cardinals that frequent our yard every day.  I take them as a sign that they enjoy eating at our birdfeeder.  

Maybe I don’t put any special merit that a cardinal is a sign, because then I would have to wonder if this vulture, so unusually close, was also a sign.  And then, I would have to try to figure out what kind of sign that vulture was for me.  That thought was less than intriguing!

I don’t put any particular stock in cardinals, or vultures, or rainbows, or other natural elements as signs, other than each should be appreciated for what they are.  But, I do believe in signs.  I believe that we each encounter God every day.  He nudges our hearts; he drifts through our thoughts – conscious and unconscious.  He spurs our hearts to contact a friend or family member who in turn tells us that they were just thinking about us.  Every act or thought or dream about true love is a trustworthy sign from God that we are loved.  He loves you.  He cups your cheek in his hand each day and gazes at you deeply.

Our faith, our churches, our worship are drenched in signs of God’s real presence.  During every Mass Jesus is truly present in the hearts of the community of believers, in His Word, and most tangibly in the Eucharist.  These are all trustworthy signs that God desires an intimate relationship with you.  These are the signs that will lead you to true peace and great joy regardless of what is happening in your life right now.  It is a joy the world cannot give.  These are the signs that we would all do well paying attention to.

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan   

Photo by Y S on Unsplash