This column is inspired by the trees bursting with flowers this spring and by my gratitude for being a Mom this past (and every) Mother’s Day…
Orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal drowned in a kayak accident in 1999. Brought back to life, she became more attuned to extraordinary phenomena on earth.
In To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels and Life Again, Neal writes about her mother’s visiting her in Jackson Hole, WY, to help her convalesce. Mary had another visitor as well. A great grey owl—something she’d never seen before—landed on her deck rail and returned for days.
Mary’s beloved stepfather, George, had pneumonia. Mary insisted her mom return to North Carolina to be with him. As her mother climbed into a cab to return home, the owl settled onto a nearby post and stared at Mary. She felt it urging her to accompany her mother. With both legs still in casts and using a walker, Mary made the difficult trip. She and her mother arrived in time for a pleasant visit with George.
The next morning, encouraged by George’s improvement, Mary and her mother sat at the breakfast table sipping coffee. They looked out the picture window at a large, barren Bradford pear tree. Her mother told her how she and George planted it many years before. They loved the large pink blossoms of the many Bradford pear trees in their neighborhood. Theirs grew taller and taller but never produced a blossom. George planned to cut it down in the spring and plant a new one.
When they got to the hospital, George had worsened. His organs were failing. The feeding tube was removed. Mary and her mother expressed their love for him and gave him permission to leave.
The next morning, as they sat down for coffee at the breakfast table, they looked out the window and gasped. The Bradford pear tree was bursting with large pink blossoms.
Mary concludes: “God’s messengers are everywhere and come to us in the forms that we can and will accept. That may mean a great grey owl…to one person, and a human being to another.”
Or a blossoming pink pear tree. May every day be Mother’s Day.
(Flowering trees? Insistent owls? Whatever your Godsign story, I’d love to hear it.”