Tutored in Wisdom

By JoAnn Campbell-Rice

Yesterday at my desk at home, futzing with my computer, I glanced out the window. On the peak of our shed at the property line was a large brown animal. Was it a cat? It had pointed ears and turned its head as if to lick its shoulder. But how would a cat have gotten up there with no nearby trees and metal walls too slippery to climb?

No, it was an owl, a huge one, in plain sight during the day. Almost a year ago in New Mexico, I dreamed about a mother owl. When I told the spiritual director at Ghost Ranch, she suggested I pay attention to my next owl sighting. When I shared that dream with my own spiritual director, she invited me to notice when owl came up in my dreams again. When I told the dream to a friend who walks a Native American spiritual path, she gifted me owl feathers to pray with. I hadn’t seen or dreamed of an owl since.

Here in day light, unprotected by trees, was an owl perched on the highest point directly in front of me. What did it mean? What might it want? I quietly moved to the deck with my phone to take a picture. The moment I touched the button, as I knew in my bones it might, the owl flew—gracefully, massively, steadily—away from me.

The photo I have is too blurry to tell there’s even a bird, let alone one of such significance, so why did I take a picture? Why the need to document and share (brag about) this remarkable sighting? If I had a do-over I would just observe and commune with this magnificent creature as long as it allowed me to.

I would realize that attention, in fact, was all it was asking of me, that my presence is all that Spirit ever requests. I hope someday I will instinctively savor the preciousness of the ordinary and the remarkable. Praise God for do-overs. Each day I have the chance to give my undivided, wholehearted attention to the holy, which is always and everywhere perched in plain sight.