Packing to leave town, I heard my phone ding with a text message. “Brenda’s showing me a crown and a feather. What’s that about?” Brenda is my dead friend, gone almost four years now, and the text was from Suzanne Giesemann, a superb spiritual teacher and evidential medium. In a surprising turn of events, Brenda, has become Suzanne’s mediumship guide since she left this world, and the texts come in as a way of checking Suzanne’s connection before her readings.
The messages are accurate about 95% of the time and another 4% usually relate to events coming up. It’s hardly necessary for Suzanne, but it’s fun and we all three love it. My life mantra these days is MORE JOY, and this game definitely brings that. Having played this way with Suzanne and Brenda for almost four years now, I’m pretty certain Brenda missed her calling as a spy. Nothing escapes her notice even, as one of a thousand examples, the future happening of a tiny ant marching out of my bra and across my chest.
Brenda to Suzanne: Lynette’s got an ant problem.
Suzanne to Lynette: Have you got ants?
Lynette to Suzanne: No! Haven’t even seen an ant in the house since moving to ATL and we had them every spring in Tulsa.
Okay, a rare miss. No biggie, because as I said, the game is for the joy of it, not because it’s necessary. And then, the slightest tickle of little feet and *boom*, an ant peeks from beneath the lace of my bra and marches across my chest.
You can’t make this stuff up. Brenda tattles constantly from her bird’s eye view. It’s a blast to maintain the connection with her in this way, because we really are here for the joy of human life, hard as that can be to stomach in the rough times.
But this time the text said, “She’s showing me a feather and a crown.” Well I was packing for a trip to see the Sandhill crane migration in Kearney, Nebraska. Lots of feathers there, and I secretly hoped to find a big one.* The crown? Couldn’t really get it. A few things came to mind, but nothing felt right.
That was Tuesday, and I thought no more about it until Friday night. Part of the deal in Kearney is to arrange to sit in blinds on the Platte River so the cranes can land without being spooked by hordes of folks with binoculars and cameras. Sandhills are skittish and Nebraska is one of the few states that disallows hunting them. When they land on the river for a few weeks every spring, they’ve been dodging shotguns for two thousand miles. Hyper alert, the Sandies are very much aware of the blinds, so we were cautioned that they typically land across the very wide river. Dressed all in black like middle-aged ninjas, we were armed only with binoculars and were promised the view would be grand, despite the distance.
And, of course, the sound … oh my stars, the sound. It carries. It is a thing beyond description, 100,000 cranes bugling at once. It’s equal parts astonishing and deeply moving. Cranes living their crane lives without interference from people, without any real awareness of us, except for the occasional human/bird encounter.
It occurred to me this is kind of how we coexist with spirit. We live our human lives, mostly unaware, occasionally having eye-popping encounters with the other world, even though spirit is here all the time. Our human experience is immersed in it. Our human experience IS it, there being only one Big Energy in existence.
But back to the birds. Sunset was an hour away. The majority of the cranes land as and after the sun goes down. All of a sudden, just to the right of our blind, on a small sandbar 20 yards away, one, two, three cranes floated gently to the ground and stood there. I am not anthropomorphizing when I say that they looked puzzled. Seriously. They were turning their heads this way and that, taking random steps to the left, right, and around.
It was way too early for them to land and I’m sure I wasn’t the only ninja sending telepathic thoughts to our fellow blind-dwellers, “don’t move, don’t make a sound!!!” And to the birds, “Don’t go away!!”
We didn’t. And they stayed. Joy!
More cranes swirled in clouds above them, seeming a little uncertain about landing so early. And then they, too, slowly began to settle. Within five minutes, there were dozens. Another ten, and there were more than 100. Within 30 minutes, there were thousands of cranes on the sandbars right in front us.
Right. In. Front. Of. Us.
Our guide, Nancy, who’s been coming to the river for weeks every spring for nine years told us how shocked she was. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Never. Not this close. Not this early. Not in these numbers. It’s unbelievable.”
That she was so clearly stunned by the display lent credence to what I thought was happening, because as the three cranes settled, I instantly thought “Brenda!” And then “Mike!” My husband and my friend are known conspirators in spirit. I knew in my heart, and I knew from the waves of sensation I was experiencing, that this was a gift from the heavens. That feather? I sensed/heard a message from Brenda. “Watch the birds! They’re the feathers and, by the way, I’ve got this bird driving thing down now.”
I only recently submitted a story about Brenda’s poor bird driving skills, “Spirit Comes in Feathers,” for an anthology to be published this summer. As I was making some minor changes to that piece, I was laughing at my friend, because it was just too funny how she could successfully shoot a bird into the house, but couldn’t maintain control, the poor hapless thing crash landing behind the television.
Though she’d have laughed too, she has a competitive streak, and it would be just like her to want to show me her improved skills. I can imagine her saying, “How do you like me now, Brenette?” as she gently set those birds down on the sandbar. That would be my Brenda.
In terms of grandeur, it was similar to the spirit-presented display of a trio of whales that demonstrated for us in the Sea of Cortez around this time four years ago. That was Brenda’s farewell trip, though we didn’t know it at the time. Her cancer had returned and she’d be gone just a month later.
It’s a long story which I wrote about in detail here, but long story short: three majestic humpbacks put on a breathtaking dance, and my husband and friend Patty’s husband, Harry, took credit for it through a couple of highly skilled evidential mediums. The blasé guys manning that boat were as awed by this end-of-season performance as our guide Nancy was in the crane blind. When people say “I’ve never seen this before, it’s unbelievable,” something not-of-this-world may be happening.
Brenda would remember both that crash-landed bird and the whales, would try to outdo both experiences, because she was competitive like that, and given what was unfolding before us on the Platte River, she’d be high-fiving Mike and the other misty folk and laughing with joy.
Isn’t it easy to dismiss these things, though? We could set aside the entire whale episode but for the fact of my sweetheart sitting with friend Jayne to create a birthday video incorporating the behavior of the whales, sharing information Jayne couldn’t possibly have known. The bird-into-the-house fiasco would be easy to dismiss if not for a gifted evidential medium confirming it after the fact.
So Brenda announces herself through Suzanne on Tuesday: “There’s a feather and a crown!” The feather seems obvious, with the cranes coming up; the crown seemingly a rare miss. And then there was the experience on the Platte.
One. Two. Three.
Crane, crane, crane.
Mike. Brenda. And ?
Because I was traveling with my friend Earline, the widow of another Mike much like my own in terms of how in love and connected they were to one another, and I know from experience that our spirit people often join together based on our connections in this human life, I checked in with her. “Do you feel your sweetheart?” And of course she was also experiencing the intense waves of shivers and emotion that come when something divine and magical happens.
One. Two. Three.
Crane, crane, crane.
Mike, Brenda, Mike.
Three cranes, three in spirit. Two of us there to receive the love. Good show guys.
And then, beyond the three, there was the ongoing display, the thing they’d created by landing the initial trio an hour before sundown, and it was staggering. Landed Sandhills act like magnets for other cranes and, by the thousands, they began dropping from the sky before us like autumn leaves from trees on a windy day.
I don’t think it’s possible to see such intense, astonishing sights in nature without being moved. Earline and I were both in tears. The holy sight of countless four foot tall, elegant, feathered beauties swirling in the sky, landing only yards away, dancing, interacting, settling in for the night. It was a once-in-a-lifetime gift.
I texted Suzanne. “There’s something unheard of happening here. I think it was Mike and Brenda.”
And then the immediate thought flashed in my brain: “Trust. Your. Self.”
I texted again. “Never mind. I know it is.”
And that’s the reason for this post. Trust. Your. Self. Trust your people in spirit! Trust the shiver, the knowing, the feeling of certainty, the image of the one you love that pops into your mind. Trust the snags, the sudden memories, the made-me-think-of-you passing thoughts. Trust the heart’s leap of hope when into the mind comes the question, “Is that you?”
Our people haven’t gone anywhere. They can’t. There is only here, only now, only, as Suzanne says, “This. Here. Now. Aware. Awareness. Being.” There is nothing in existence that is not of spirit in the end, so in essence, EVERYthing is a message. Every single leaf and branch, bird and feather, human being and heart’s sudden fast beating. It’s all held in the Only-ness. Why not celebrate the joy? Why do we doubt ourselves so? And worse, our loved ones,
In my own experience, it feels like I get more signs from loved ones and guides when I recognize and hold dear the signs I get. I imagine even blissful immersed-in-love misty beings appreciate a little positive reinforcement. If you think you’re not getting them, trust. Be willing to believe. Look for a message, don’t analyze it to death. Don’t post on Facebook, “Do you think it’s a sign?” It doesn’t matter what others think. You don’t need anyone else’s verification. Just trust. Hold it in your heart. Say “thank you,” and “more please.” I know we are showered in love from our people in spirit but in our (blameless, it’s how we’re made) humanness, we often miss the evidence or we talk ourselves out of it.
Joy is infectious, it feels delicious. We want more, our people in spirit want more, but even more than that, they want to reassure us that they are more than okay, they’re very, very well and still with us.
When I told Suzanne to never mind, I had received my own confirmations: full body shivers, intense; a knowing; the awareness of the three of them present with us in that blind. I felt Mike and Brenda; Earline felt her Mike too. And then there was the outside confirmation of the lovely guide, Nancy, who kept saying over and over “I’ve never seen anything like it. Never. Never. It’s unbelievable.”
It is unbelievable. Unless we choose to believe. In choosing to believe, we’re really only admitting to having a willingness to accept something as true, and that creates an open mind and heart for what may come. It’s a fertile field for planting magic and, for me, the harvest has been a crop of miracles beyond anything I could have imagined in those desperate days after the deaths of too many loved ones. What felt like a solid ending, an impenetrable wall of loss, has become more like a curtain of netting separating me from them.
Now I know the truth, that we are eternal, that love is forever. And even with that doubts will arise. They come with the human suit, part of the rule set, and they’re natural. But we can decide to set those aside and to trust, to be willing and open.
Trust. Your. Self. can become a mantra if we open our hearts and minds to the greater reality and ask for a sign. We can also listen to and read about the miracles experienced by others while we wait for our own. In a perfect illustration of the William James’ “One White Crow” theory, a sign for one is a sign for all of us because all of it exists in the Only-ness.
I suspected when I texted Suzanne. I KNEW when I told her to never mind.
Trust. Your. Self. To analyze and doubt the gifts we receive is to tear apart a living thing to see how it works. Spirit is infinitely creative, infinitely responsive to our longing and our love. Trust. Your. Self.
And that crown? As I was writing this on Sunday morning, Earline said, “come here, you have to see this.” On the stairs leading to our little old farmhouse aerie at the Airbnb, above the stairs, there was the crown. And then two lions, for my two Leos, Brenda and Mike. And below that, TRAVELER, which was a big part of a message I received in Sedona recently.
This life can be deliciously, exquisitely, divinely wonderful, even after crushing loss. We are not alone, ever. But wow, it can sure feel like it. So how to live? Clamped down, fists clenched, certain we know what’s what? Or with open heart and mind, aware, looking for, wide open to the signs and wonders our misty folks will send us?
I’m going with the latter. I prefer to live as if it’s all a miracle,** because it is. This world is not what it seems. It’s far, far better. I hope you feel it too.
And some magic with this post:
*Up near the top of this post, I wrote, “Lots of feathers there, and I secretly hoped to find a big one.” Nearing the end of a hike alongside the river, hoping for a crane feather, I “heard” in my mind, “go left.” I looked and there was only grass and scrub, no path. Seriously? Again, “go left.” I did. Looked at the river, at a beaver-gnawed cottonwood. It was a beautiful view, but nothing here. Imagination? I turned to leave and right there beneath the toe of my boot, two soft gray sandhill crane feathers. Brenda’s feathers. The ones I’d hoped for. Trust. Believe. Always.
**And some more magic with this post: Again hiking the Platte, I noticed a little signpost. I’d seen a few of them and, assuming they were rules, had ignored them, but I was drawn to this one. I scooted over to read the marker, and there, only hours after I’d written, “I prefer to live as if it’s all a miracle,” the Einstein quote: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle.”
And some extras, because Sandies are spectacular.