Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Call of the rainbird

There it is again, the call of the rainbird. But it can't be. I have never heard this bird in any part of North America, let alone this urban park in the Northeast. It has to be someone whistling for his dog. The whistle changes, a happy dog with flapping ears materializes through the maples, and my guess is confirmed.
    But for a moment, I am transported, back to a another park, in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, where my parents retired. I walked a path there, slowly, with my father when I visited him before his death. He loved to hear the call of the rainbird and would imitate it perfectly. even after his stroke. The Pacific koel - as ornithologists and bird-watchers call this kind of cuckoo - derives its familiar name from the fact that it is often heard before rain and storm. The males are black with red eyes, and their calls in mating season are very demanding.
    Strange and welcome, this vivid reminder of a scene from the other side of the world in the whistle of a dog walker. When I heard the rainbird, I was thinking about the content of a class I leading this evening in a teleseminar for The Shift Network. The theme tonight is "Partnering with Spiritual Guides." I was reminded that our spiritual guides include loved ones who have gone to the Other Side before us, and that they can become extraordinary life counselors.
    My father played a very direct role in healing old family wounds within days of his death. After the funeral, I sat out on a balcony with my mother. Emotions were raw, we were drinking rather heavily, and my mother started voicing an old list of complaints. When I responded curtly, she rushed inside the apartment.  I was deeply sad, and ashamed. In desperation, I spoke to my father. I begged him to forgive me for getting drawn into old, petty family disputes. “Dad, if you can, please speak to Mum. Please lift the burden and the bitterness from her.”
     The next instant, my mother flew through the door to the balcony like a leaf being blown by a strong wind. She stood behind me, placing her right arm over my shoulder, and her left hand over my heart. She spoke to me of love and forgiveness. She spoke of the deep love she had always felt for me, and apologized that she had so often found it impossible to demonstrate that love, and had been so prone to get distracted by things that really weren’t important.
     All the while, she had her left hand on my heart. When I mentioned this later, she was stunned. She found it hard to believe what I was telling her. She was never one for physical contact and had no idea that her hand was on my heart. This gust of emotion, this tremendous release, had come from someone who had been emotionally bottled up since I was very young, who avoided showing her feelings and did not hold me like a mother. She said, “I came back out on the balcony because something grabbed me and pushed me outside.”
    I was certain it was my father who had blown her back to me, and held her hand over my heart, to make peace between us, and bring us back to the heart center. I felt the depth of my father’s blessing, and deep gratitude for what becomes possible when we recognize that our dead are alive, and that we can help each other to live better and remember what matters.
    In the year that followed, my father visited me, and another family member, repeatedly. He confirmed the reality of life beyond physical death. He delivered messages for the family that helped us to navigate life issues. For example, concerned that my mother needed to move to a more sheltered environment, he visited me and insisted that I tell her to get in touch with someone named "Rodriguez." I had no idea who this might be, but when I duly phoned my mother, she told me that she knew a Ron Rodriguez quite well. He was a real estate agent. She followed my father's advice and Rodriguez helped her to sell her apartment and move to a new home in a retirement community where she made new friends and was happy in her last years.
    My father showed me something of his transitions on the side, and his eventual choice of a new life situation where he would no longer be available for communication on a regular basis. I think of him now, with deep love and gratitude for playing the role of family angel in so many ways. Thank you, Dad. And I thank whatever inspired that other dog walker to make the call of the rainbird today.

Part of this article is adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Photo of Pacific koel by Aviceda

You can listen to the call of the rainbird here


Gemini Spirit said...

I enjoyed reading this in you book, and really needed to read this again today. I am getting so much learning from your books. I am so happy that a friend showed me this path. Thank you.

Mokihana Calizar said...

I love reading this reminder about the role of loved ones in the healing of family wounds. My brother passed three months ago, and while he lay on the threshold between physical and other-world a life-long hurt between him and the last remaining family elder healed with presence and story.

Thank you.