On Monday morning I was walking the dogs like I always do. It was before the sunrise, so house lights and two streets lights were the only points of illumination along the street. We reached the turnaround spot and were headed back to the house. We came up to an odd intersection – where three streets come together. I was just about to enter the middle of the intersection when I felt something hit me in the arm then sting me. I yelled which startled Steve, so he barked and jumped around. Denali was on high alert.
Before this incident I had never been stung while walking, or running for that matter. When I think about all the times I’ve been outside walking and all the stinging insects that are on this earth, it is a bit of a miracle that this had never happened before! I’m grateful though – it really hurt and the itchy raised spot that lasted most of the week was really annoying.
A couple days later I was walking on campus for my mid-morning “I can’t look at the computer or be in this cubicle for another minute” walk. Out of the blue a butterfly or something other large flying creature ran right into me. I immediately sent Brad a text complaining about my bad luck or suggesting that perhaps there is a sign I’m missing.
I’ve heard people say that if you see the same creature multiple times that the Universe is sending you a sign. Or perhaps that is your spirit animal. For example, I see hawks a lot. According to spiritanimal.info, “The hawk totem provides wisdom about seeing situations from a higher perspective, using the power of observation, and focusing on the task at hand. It’s a good companion to develop spiritual awareness.” Or, I just happen to look up at the right time to see them. It could be a sign or it could be coincidence… or maybe those are one in the same.
Was the Universe sending me a sign by having a bug sting me on a routine walk with my dogs? Was there something to be learned when a butterfly flew into my face a few days later? Or was it just happenstance, was it just a moment when we happened to be in each other’s way?
I’ve asked similar questions about God… how do I know if that’s God speaking or just something I’m telling myself? When is a situation coincidence and when is it a sign?
I think the more I pay attention, the more I’m aware, the more likely I am to see things that other people don’t take the time to notice. When I slow down and look up, I see more. When I’m not looking at my phone or staring down at my feet, I see more – more hawks, more flowers, more snails, more smiles, more twinkles in their eyes.
I think the more often I make time to be quiet, to sit in silence, to BE – the more likely I’ll begin to discern the voice of God, the Universe, Creation. When I take moments to sit under the full moon next to a raging fire. When I pay attention the beauty of a still lake. When I remain in the present and appreciate each moment as precious and amazing. When I do those things, I begin to discover that the voice of God is less the sound of a voice and more the presence of beauty and creativity and joy and laughter and stillness.
Is it a sign? Yes, I think so. It’s all a sign – a sign to pay attention, to be grateful, to move with the Spirit, to be yourself, to listen and to speak. Being stung Monday morning was a sign that I’m not alone in this world – that creation is all around me. Seeing hawks is a sign that I need to pay attention all that’s around me – to what is often overlooked.
The world is full of one sign after another – you just have to slow down long enough to notice them.