I woke the other morning to my son coming in to say our morning prayers together and read a few passages from scripture to start our day.
As Tom plopped into the chair in the corner of my bedroom, I sat up in bed after a night of deep, restful sleep. I folded the covers back and was startled to find a large feather, nearly the size of my palm, laying directly next to me in bed.
It was unusual to me because it’s vane was perfectly fanned, and the shaft was lined straight up and down, longwise in the bed, in such a way that it took my breath momentarily, as I realized what it was.
I helped my son prepare for his day and got him on the bus for school. I returned to make my bed and instead sat down as I twirled this feather in my fingers, contemplating its random appearance. It was too big to have come out of my comforter, and my logic mind filed through several other explanations (most if them implausible).
I pulled open a book I keep close to my bed called: “Animals Speak-A Comprehensive Dictionary of Animal, Bird & Reptile Symbolism”. I looked under feathers and read all sorts of nice, yet insignificant meanings; none of which spoke to me.
I thought of a time I was walking into work one spring morning, and found Rex with a hose pouring a light trickle of water onto the lawn. I joked with him from afar, that we had landscapers for that, but as I approached, I looked down to find surrounding his feet a brood of baby ducklings, lapping up the water, with their mom and pop waddling close by.
Taking this memory as a possible cue, I looked up the meaning of ducks (thinking it was a duck feather that showed up so mysteriously in my bed). The book said something about ducks being a symbol for emotional support....“Okay Rex,” I called to my ceiling. “Thanks for the support!” The definition didn’t feel right either though, so I laughed at myself and got ready to face the day.
That afternoon I went to a massage I had scheduled with a friend who’s worked on me for years.
Since she was little, the veil has been thin for her, and I knew her to be very intuitive; yet I said nothing about my experience that morning. In fact I said, intentionally, that I just wanted to sleep, and wasn’t really up for visiting.
As she quietly began her work on my upper back and shoulders, I heard her sigh several times, and she finally said out loud: “Hang on a minute Syl, I need to go look something up in my ‘Animals Speak’ book!”
I asked her what was up? She told me she had felt Rex’s presence close and that he kept showing her something, but she didn’t want me to think she was a nut, so she was going to look up the meaning first.
I said: “Oh come on. I won’t think you are nuts, just tell me now?”
And with a long sigh she said: “He keeps showing me a Goose and telling me to tell you GOOSE! Is that crazy or what?!”
I told her that she was not crazy, she was right on. Of course a goose feather, that made sense as I have a down comforter; only the feather was much too big to seep through the fabric and it was shades of brown. The feathers in my comforter are little white down feathers, yet here was my answer.
We both laughed and cried a little bit, as I shared my experience from that morning and validated the one she was having right then.
She grabbed the book and read the symbolic meaning of a Goose showing up in dreams or mysteriously in life; and the message that is there for the soul to learn from the experience.
The author, Ted Andrews in the book said: “Geese fly in a V-formation, each one taking turns as the geese behind ride the draft on long journeys, that way the whole group can fly much further than any one alone.”
I thought of how I met Rex first as my therapist and then years later ended up as a caregiver to him as a friend and colleague. Our relationship was symbiotic like that in the way we both had a chance to support one another. I knew at the time, it was a rare kind of relationship.
The description in the book went on, as she read:
“The goose never leaves one of its own kind behind. Should a goose become injured during its migration, another goose will leave the migrating flock to stay with its fallen companion. The goose will stay with the injured member of the flock until it has recovered or until its final breath.”
These sentences made me think of Rex’s goodness. It seemed throughout his life, he was the goose that would leave the migrating flock, and sit with the one who was injured throughout recovery. He did this for me when we met first.
Later on, I was right through the wall watching a steady stream of souls come and go every day. I knew from my own time with him, how he ministered to the broken hearted and heavy laden. I understood full well how important the work was that he was doing on the other side of the wall in my office, and felt that same respect from him to me.
One time when we were talking, he randomly dropped to one knee and waving his hands up and down, said: “I am not worthy!” We both chuckled as I made him stand up and said back jokingly: “You are NOT allowed to worship me...GURU Rex, or in two seconds we would both end up on the floor bowing to each other and it would just look weird!”
A year or so later, when I was asked to attend to him in the hospital, it took not a moments thought before I agreed.
At one point, just a week before his passing, he asked me:
“Syl how can I ever repay you for this?”
My voice broke into tears as I replied to him:
“Rex you have ministered to me in so many ways!”
I told him that there were so many people who would want to be in that hospital room helping. Being there to assist in anyway I could, felt like a sacred role to me. I explained that I was there representing the energy of everyone who loved him so. I shared with him that each one of them would wish to help if they could, and I was just grateful that what I was doing was helpful to him in any way.”
Today I turned back again to the pages in the book and was reminded of the line: “As the Geese constantly shift in formation, it reminds us that as any one individual accomplishes his or her quest, it makes it easier for the others, and in this, we facilitate the journey for each other.”
So in my experience of waking up to a Goose feather that lay perfect at my side, I know for a fact that my experience is a message that belongs to anyone Rex attended to throughout his life. It is such a fitting reminder that he sits with us still as long as is necessary, until our wings have the energy to take flight on their own again.
I am sure each person he cared for has experienced some small tender mercy since his passing, whether we are able to explain it away or not.
In a broader sense, we are each supported in ways we may or may not recognize. Experiences like these teach me to trust that the support beyond our view is much closer than we know.
I love you for your life dear Rex, and since your passing, I marvel still at your ability to catch my heart off guard and blow it open.