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January 7, 2012

Signs and Wonders: Our Next Theme

Ysabel de la Rosa
Many are the stories that tell of signs and wonders appearing after a loved one's death: a rose blooming in a blizzard, unexplainable "coincidences," messages discovered in unlikely places, and wonders brought to us by the natural world.... in short, things we cannot make up, yet present themselves both clearly and mysteriously. (The rose at left bloomed during our first snow in November. I planted the rose bush in memory of my sister.)

Even as a child, I was prone to notice such things, but when I read Lawrence Kushner's Honey from the Rock (a magnificent, soul-nourishing work), he affirmed for me that "nothing is too small to be a sign from God." I believe that the same is true when receiving or noticing signs from our loved ones who have moved on.  

Often, the natural world speaks to us. I found a single spectacular magnolia bloom in my yard on the anniversary of my mother's death, in a season when magnolias do not bloom. In fact, I have often been greeted by beautiful blossoms utterly out of season on important anniversaries, such as a loved one's birthday or date of departure. 

Sometimes the signs are gently humorous or more worldly. During the first year after my sister's death, on my hardest days of grieving, I would see something related to Chi Omega, her college sorority, whether a person in a T-shirt, a bumper sticker, or a decal. This had not happened prior to her death, and I might call this mere coincidence, except that these "sightings" happened only and consistently on difficult days. 

Other times, it could be a message, perhaps in a song. I remember standing in a grocery store, fighting the tears that can come on so suddenly, without warning, and thinking to myself, "What am I going to do now?" At that moment the line from the song playing on the speaker system was: "Live like you're dying." Like it or not, I know that is supremely good advice. Or, as the Spanish saying goes, "Hay más tiempo que vida". There is no time to be wasted. Wasted time is wasted living.

Onurdongel, iStock Photo
Speaking of time, a dear friend of mine whose 23-year-old son died suddenly from an undiagnosed illness, ordered a special watch for her younger son's birthday. When the watch arrived in the mail, its date was set to the birth date of the son who died, which was no where near the day or year of its arrival.

The key is to be attentive, to notice, sometimes even the smallest detail. I know from talking to friends and family members that these signs and wonders can lift our spirits when nothing else can. It's not about proving anything, just Being... Minding ... Seeing .... Listening ... and Opening. The way a flower opens.

aloha 17, iStock Photo
Do you have a story, essay, poem, photograph or other kind of image of a sign or wonder that has appeared in your life, connected to the departure of a loved one? If you do and you'd like to share it with the readers of this Blog, send it to ysadelarosa(at)gmail(dot)com.

Submissions of poetry, prose, and images relating to this theme will be accepted through February 29, 2012. Submissions accepted in English, Spanish, French, Italian.

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