A perfect red-tailed hawk feather lays at my feet. I can’t believe my eyes. A prayer of sorts, escapes my lips.

“Thank you!”

Red-tailed hawks have flown through our yard for years. I have seen them in the distance. They circle. Dive down. Grab prey. Fly away. Their auburn feathers aglow in sunlight.

This is the first hawk feather I have ever found. Feathers, flowers, and rainbows are a few of Mother Nature’s blessings. They often leave us in a state of awe.

Gratefully, most mornings I am in my garden. This is a gift of sheltering in place. I dig. I plant. I pull weeds. I pick flowers and gather vegetables. Carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and dill grow among vibrant flowers. There’s even a bunch of romaine lettuce that planted itself. You could say, I’m growing my own salad. For now this patch of earth is ours. This much of the world I can tend to and that is a blessing.

There is also a sadness about these days.

Most of us are grieving the loss of life as we knew it. I can’t even begin to name how life has changed in both big and little ways. Touch has become taboo. I look longingly into the eyes of dear friends as we meet without giving or receiving a hug. We now feel sadness where we once found joy.

Shockwaves still surround us as our world jerks from pandemic to racial unrest to political upheaval. Our culture and our lives are being reshaped. Where these changes will take us is uncertain. We will not know that for years or decades ahead. 

And Yet, unexpected blessings continue to appear.

My yard has now become the meeting place of women’s circles. It’s true we sit farther apart. But we are closer to Mother Nature. Our feet rest on her belly. Our faces are sometimes washed by gentle rain. Birds serenade us as they fly from branch to branch.

We are deep into our sharing when the red-tailed hawk appears. He swoops down from the southeast corner of the yard. He flies just three feet above the ground and around the edge of the circle. We sit in stunned silence. We see him. We hear his powerful wings beating against the air. He lands in a thirty-foot cedar looking over our circle.

The southeast is the direction of ancestors on the medicine wheel. Is he reminding us to stay connected to a bigger pattern to life? An ancient pattern, known to our ancestors, that says all things have seasons.

We must respond to the challenges of today and not forget we are part of a larger story.  We each need to find connection to these older ancient rhythms. Not to escape what we now experience but to strengthen ourselves so we may stay present to all that is changing.

This is how we will discover blessings even during times of crisis. Finding a hawk feather reminds me of  this.