Animal Wisdom

Mourning Dove in the Dark

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

It had been a day of syncronicities and usually when more than one occurs, there's a strong message there for me. This was one of those days. That morning my hibiscus plant had brought forth a beautiful flower bloom despite it being late autumn. The rich, orange color made me feel gratitude especially amidst the many gray days we had seen as winter approached. It had been a great start to the day for me. Later while driving home, I had also seen a Buck in the distance frantically searching for a safe place amidst the traffic and chaos of the road. His appearance, once again, a special symbolic moment.

That evening I had walked with my dogs amidst a starlit night sky. Despite the cold and darkness, I was determined to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise after a long day of work adjusting to a new environment that had drained me energetically. I could clearly see the Pleiades, as well as Jupiter and Venus that had paired in a recent conjunction. The two planets were still close to each other shining brightly. Somehow it all felt magical as I thought I might even see a falling star that night. Something felt like it was in the air.

I had recently had a vivid dream in which I was sitting beneath a star filled night sky where many meteor showers were displayed. The stars kept falling from the sky. In that same dream, a flock of Falcons also appeared during the night. The symbolism of the contradiction still eluded me since Falcons do not fly in flocks nor do they appear at night. They are day birds of prey. I felt the dream was perhaps a premonition of powerful energies descending upon the Earth, though the symbolism could be viewed in many ways. As time passes, I usually understand the metaphors. As always, I just needed to be patient until the symbolism revealed itself in my life.

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

This night I was to once again, have a day bird appear to me in the night. This time it was in the real world and not in my dreams. As my dogs and I continued walking, I suddenly stopped and looked down on the ground with my flashlight and there was a Mourning Dove sitting motionless in the dark on the asphalt paved path away from any protective trees or shrubs. I shined my flashlight on her for quite a while so surprised to see her. I thought she must be injured because this was highly unusual behavior. As I began to take off my gloves, she must have sensed I was about to pick her up and she suddenly flew away. The moment left me in awe with such a feeling of mysticism. This songbird who usually seeks shelter away from predators, had caught my attention underneath the stars.

I went home and continued reading Sue Monk Kidd's book When the Heart Waits wherein she discusses a spiritual turning point in her life and how sometimes you just have to be with your question, until the answer arrives. This advice had struck a chord with me due to the many unanswered questions currently in this world and in my own life. The words felt like very wise advice and they gave me peace as they resonated with my own inner knowing that all was well despite what things may seem in this moment. 

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Mourning Doves have been very significant in my life. Their soft, peaceful cooing sound has always been soothing to me. They have usually been guideposts that something significant is about to happen. They have come to symbolize transition and new experiences for me. Many years ago while my son was very young, a Mourning Dove hit my windshield on the way to meet a client to consecrate the building of their new home on Seneca land. I will never forget that moment as the Dove died on impact. I was devastated and unnerved as I continued driving to what would be a challenging ceremony. At the same time I also knew that animals often transition to spirit to be your ally. I had been told by a Native American teacher that in her tribal beliefs, it is called "a giveaway". Not surprisingly that day was to be a turning point in my career as I began focusing on ceremonial shamanic work clearing memories and healing the homes and land of clients.

Sometimes it is in their passing that these doves have crossed my path, but never have they appeared at night time. Throughout the years Mourning Dove has appeared on special occasions when changes were occurring in my life, but usually it was just feathers scattered near my bird feeder and once, an injured dove whose wounds were too severe that I could not save. During the beginning of my pilgrimage throughout southern Peru a few years ago, Mourning Dove appeared again this time basking in the sunlight on the cliffs of Peru while I sat dining a few feet away. It wasn't until recently that I realized the significance at the beginning of a journey that would be quite arduous in terms of adjusting to the altitude and endless travel, as well as the shadow and illusion that I would encounter along the way. I know now that she came to reassure me that I was always surrounded by light, despite the tests of faith I would experience as a result of this trip.

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

This latest appearance of Mourning Dover under a star filled sky was immensely powerful to my psyche. I felt that because she appeared surrounded by darkness this time and I had needed to shine the light on her, there would be some type of reversal in my life. Not only had I encountered hardships and several disappointments as a result of my trip abroad, but I had also gone through a tremendous healing crisis shortly after my return to the US and had been through a very long and complex healing process. There had been great upheaval in my life as I struggled to come to terms with how my life was and how I would like it to be.

Mourning Dove appeared once more in December. This time it was on Christmas day. I saw her sitting outside my son's bedroom window during a very cold winter's day. I just happened to enter his room to put some things away and glanced outside. She gave me the feeling that all was well as she sat on a tree branch calmly puffed up for warmth amidst the freshly fallen snow. She gave me a sense of immense peace and hope that day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

I know now that Mourning Dove in the Dark came to tell me that my life would be changing and that now it is time to write my story on her behalf and this planet. Most of my life I think I have been in mourning for the loss of my true self and my inability to be authentic so early on in life, as well as all the chaos of so many years of learning to remember who I am. Now I grieve for this planet in so many ways, but more than ever I recognize the importance of being authentic in this world. The creatures of the Earth have been such a huge part of my path, always communicating their messages to me, even if I didn't always understand their meaning until much later.

Mourning Dove is a constant reminder to sing a new song for myself and this Earth-- one of wisdom, hope, creativity and peace.  Perhaps she is a more powerful ally than I could ever have imagined. Mourning Dove has come to mean so many things to me. A few days ago a pair of doves sat feeding beneath my Black Locust tree I had named Jupiter. I'd like to believe Mourning Dove has come to remind me of the magic of unexpected gifts and synchronicities when you least expect them. Jupiter is, after all, the planet of blessings. It falls in line with my dream...

 

2018 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

 

Keyna the Brilliant Jewel

Keyna was one of three sisters that I rescued from a high kill shelter in Brownsville, TX. All three had been abandoned by a woman who gave permission for their euthanasia. They were probably leftovers from a puppy mill breeder as the woman was not interested in any more females. I will never know the whole story. Luckily a caring volunteer intervened at the right moment. They eventually made their way to Western New York to find new homes after weeks of sleepless nights. While I arranged everything, I also worried about finding the right transport for such a long distance and that time might run out to save them.

I had originally searched for a rescue dog for my son's birthday. This eventually led to considering a second dog for my mother when I found a picture posted of all three dogs on social media. However, I simply could not leave the third behind. Her name would be Keyna. At the shelter they had named her "Lovely" and that she truly was. I gave her the name Keyna because it means "jewel" in Welsh. The name suited her just fine as she truly was a diamond in the rough.

All three dogs were extremely unruly and skittish when they arrived. They were quite a handful and I quickly became overwhelmed by their high energy levels and lack of discipline. The dog I had intended for my mother was way too much for her, as were all the sisters, so I quickly realized I would have to find homes as soon as possible for two of them. Keyna was the most shy and anxious of the three so I had to place the other ones first, including the one that had been intended for us. It was not an easy decision.

As time went on I realized that although she had come a long way in social and obedience skills, Keyna's anxiety issues were not going away and they were linked to our suburban environment. Anything new and unknown intimidated her and yet she was confident and obedient off leash on our property. She acted like she had a job to do guarding all perimeters of our property and never venturing anywhere near our busy street and rarely straying over neighboring boundaries. There was no need for an electrical fence. Yet our walks in the nearby park even on the wooded trails often left me stressed out. On a leash, she repeatedly looked behind her as though something or someone were constantly lurking nearby. 

It was because of her inability to adjust to public spaces, that I kept trying to find a new home for Keyna in a more rural environment where she could feel more comfortable. It seemed that her stress levels were just increasing and because I am also highly sensitive, it added to my own stress. I had found potentially great homes for Keyna on two occasions. The first was a home in a very rural environment in the southern tier. The day of the home visit, a severely injured woodchuck crossed my path on the road to her potential home. I was helpless to do anything to alleviate its suffering despite being a wildlife rehabilitator, as the wounded animal ran off and buried itself in a hole. It nevertheless remained etched in my mind as a sign of this potential situation not being right and the couple we met commented that "there was always something going on" which left me feeling unsettled that day. There was something about that particular rural area that didn't feel right, as it had developed quite a reputation over the years for tragic things happening to these once Native American lands. Ultimately this potential home fell through when the woman never followed up after our meeting and in the end, I actually felt relieved.

About a year or so later someone contacted me from Canada wanting to know if I would consider an adoption in the Toronto area. I said yes for the right person and I would be willing to do the home visit despite the distance. While we initially met at a dog park in the city of Buffalo and everything else was going smoothly, the final home visit where I expected to leave Keyna with her new companion, also did not go so well. Upon our arrival, it was clear that this potential situation was nothing like what I had been told. The backyard photos were misleading and the home was way too small. The home was also located in an extremely busy suburban area that is similar to our city streets and the woman was clearly not as active as she had led me to believe. So despite an extremely disappointing and uncomfortable situation, Keyna came back home with us that day.

The years went by and while Keyna became a devoted and attentive member of our family, it was clear to me that this situation was not getting any better. Long periods of time would go by and I kept thinking she was adjusting, but she would quickly rebound during her walks in the park and become extremely anxious. I began to realize that the chronic stress which caused her to pant heavily and become skittish could eventually lead to long terms health issues if not resolved. So I made one last effort to place her. Initially nothing seemed to be happening. Just when I had pretty much resigned to believing that Keyna was going to remain with us permanently and we unexpectedly adopted a second shelter dog, an opportunity presented itself.

I received a call from a couple who were looking for a dog just like Keyna. They had a home in a rural area of the Finger Lakes on top of a mountain with 55 acres of land and two ponds. They both worked out of their home, although the woman had largely retired and was looking for a companion to accompany her during her daily activities. Over the course of several weeks we got to know one another better and it seemed this would be an ideal situation for Keyna. I was thrilled. A visit to their beautiful, secluded mountainside home confirmed my feelings. Yet despite this perfect home that had finally appeared for Keyna after almost 5 years, it was with great difficulty and sadness that we gave her up.

I have received periodic reports on Keyna's progress which inevitably validated for me how this very difficult decision was undoubtedly in her best interest. I think a part of me always knew Keyna would be leaving, but there is no doubt in my mind that she was meant to be saved that day, the sister who would have been left behind. On Earth Day, April 22nd would have been 5 years since all three sisters first arrived. Looking back, I don't think I would have done things any differently. Throughout the years Keyna taught me about my own sensitivities and how easily I become stressed. She mirrored to me my own instinctive behavior, intuition and my keen awareness of my surroundings. 

As the months have gone by, I have heard about how well Keyna is doing as she listens to her new female companion and never strays far despite the vast expanse of her new territory. It is as if all along I had been grooming her for the perfect behavior for such a home. She now loves swimming in her ponds and exploring her new territory, always careful to sense this new environment that holds a myriad of new adventures with someone who is completely attentive to her needs and well being. The situation is so much more than I could have imagined for her and only in my own selfishness, could I not have allowed this transition to take place. Animals often come into your life for a reason eventually moving on just like people do. I've realized now how timing in life is everything. Sometimes a brilliant jewel must go through quite a process before it can shine. It seems appropriate I honor Keyna on this Beltane, a day of celebration and new beginnings.

 

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.