They usually appear on a meditative walk, at the precise moment when, after trying to figure something out, I come to a place of letting go, when I know I just don't have the answers. It's almost like they are there to say, "give it up Lisa, God's got ya covered".
About 5 years ago I had a counselor that had a couple of white feathers in her office. As I was noticing them, she had told me she believed that feathers are "God's promises". That was the first time I had heard that. But it really stuck with me.
I noticed a feather collection at the home and violin shop of one of my most beloved friends and his wife in Gainesville. They live on a property in the middle of many glorious acres that he calls "The Magic Forest" and they walk and admire nature often.
Fast forward years later, and I went for a walk during a depressed time. Here's a picture of what I brought home the first time I decided to look for things that made me happy and pick them up. This was the first feather I can remember actually finding that way and keeping myself- and it's still one of my favorites.
A little while later, I was in that state again, and a friend of mine gave me these amazing feathers from a macaw that she had been pet-sitting. They became inspiration for a painting. Their electric blue feathers instantly transported me into another emotion, and I was on a roll.
And now, I just allow the feathers to pick me up when I feel like I'm squashed into the mud. They seem to lift me up. I gathered a whole bunch one day while out at the lake visiting a friend at an art show. I had so much fun watching the family of ducks nearby swimming, and the kids feeding them and trying to grab pets. The feathers really did somehow make me feel just a little bit more connected to the people and things around me, not under them.
Around that time, I got interested in what all the symbolism was around feathers. Did what the counselor say make any sense, and were there any reasons why I should believe this?
I did know already that the beliefs of the Native Americans, "animism", has always been near and dear to my heart. In fact, if I had to decide on a philosophy, that may be the closest I could find. I found out through research that the Native Americans believe that feathers connect the owner with the bird that gave it through spirit.
I found out too that many cultures have regard feathers highly, including the Egyptians.
And truly, a whole lot of people believe what my counselor at the time had believed, that they are tokens, or signs left behind by the angels. This idea makes me really happy, and so I'm going with it. In fact, in my research I had even found that the Native Americans believed different bird feathers carried different meanings, and many believe that the colors make a difference. At least one reference directly related white feathers to angels, and even went further to say that it means your loved ones who have crossed over are saying they are safe and at peace.
Most recently, white feathers only keep appearing to me. I was down in Kissimmee at a lake, and there were thousands of different kinds of black and grey birds all around me. I was hoping maybe I'd find a feather then. It was really strange, because I found only one feather, and it was a pure white. Near the feather was an information plaque about Chief Osceola, for which the surrounding county was named.
At a student's art lesson, I brought her outside to work on drawing a tree. I told her about how I was collecting feathers. She pointed to one hundreds of yards away, and told me it was probably from a duck that comes visiting that they call "Queen Bee".
But the coolest find recently was the other day- I decided to take a walk around a park next to my son's school, Valencia College, (where he takes a few classes during his senior year of High School) while waiting for him to get out of class. Since I didn't want to walk in the shoes I had, I decided to take them off and go for a nice "grounding" walk. I've heard it helps your mind and body to electrically discharge to the earth. It was glorious, except for the fact that I realized it's important not to walk under the canopy of an oak tree...acorns hurt....
I saw some sandhill cranes, and thought that maybe I'd find a grey feather. It was a gorgeous cool day, and I was absolutely relishing the feeling of the soft soccer-field grass under my feet. There were no feathers anywhere. I probably walked about a mile, weaving in and out of those mine fields of acorns, turned around and then two minutes after turning to go BACK, I saw this, directly in the same path I had just walked along...
Who knows why these things happen? I looked up all about the scene in Forrest Gump. In a video about the making of the scene, Gary Sinese said, "It means, destiny is a crapshoot. Was it supposed to happen that way, or did it just happen that way because that's the way the feather blew?" Well, whichever way it is, I have decided that these signs are meant to show me all will be okay. Not to think too much about everything. Not to worry - let destiny be. Instead, I'm gathering up my feathers and I am starting on some art about them. My next post will be all about that.
I still can't get that music out of my head, and the beauty of that scene. I remembered the feather, but I didn't remember that Forrest had picked it up and saved it. He knew what it was all about.