Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three Little Birds

One of my favorite movies is “Signs” and I recommend it to many people. In fact it is bit of a running joke.  Sure it stars the rambling off-his rocker Mad Max and the future Man in Black. There are crop circles and aliens and tin foil hats.  But the real reason to see it is for one scene where the brothers (Mel and Joaquin) have the most succinct and reasonable discussion about faith:

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

As an artist, teacher, and generally curious person, I am always questioning the universe and my place in it.  Even as a kid when my Dad was lecturing me, I would interrupt him with my argument, “but wait…” And since I am a white, middle class, educated, smart, reasonably healthy and attractive American-my place in the universe should be pretty good. I have some talent. A great spouse, family, and friends. My business not only survived the recession but we have done relatively well. So why all of a sudden was I out of synch?  Maybe I was taking things for granted?  I was letting small things like petty business competition on Facebook bother me and larger issues like politics overwhelm me.  My body and mind were tired. Even as I pushed harder, I felt more behind.

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

My good friend Suzanne let me know that a mutual friend was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Cindy is a designer that had taken a cabinet class with me and whenever I would see her (we travel in a lapping social circle) she would tell me how much fun it had been. She wanted to take another one.  Now that wouldn’t happen.  Suzanne had graciously offered to faux finish the new rooms in Cindy’s home that would accommodate her wheelchair and hospital bed. Our friend Julie was also helping. Was I in?

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

I had classes on-going and a new workout schedule (I thought I had the physical weakness at least figured out). How would being around a debilitated person help with my own depression?  But I went. I like Cindy and couldn’t imagine what it was like for her or her family.  Plus Suzanne had way more on her plate then me and she was willing to help.  So we troweled, and foiled, and glittered, and glazed.  Then Cindy wanted a mural. Something really simple. Three little birds.  Cardinals-my favorite.  On a Birch branch-also a favorite.  Could I paint it?

Rise up this morning. Smiled with the risin sun. Three little birds. Pitch by my doorstep.

Sure. It was simple.  She let me select the design which was two fat cardinals on the branch and one in flight.  We have a family of cardinals that have lived in our backyard for over 8 years.  In winter I see those bright red coats in the snow. They make me happy.  I painted the whole thing in less than 3 hours. She was thrilled. I felt bad-it had been so simple. I didn’t see her for a few weeks and then she texted me asking if I wanted to get some old cabinets from her home to use for class. Bruce and I picked them up. She couldn’t move any more.

Singin sweet songs. Of melodies pure and true. Sayin this is my message to you…

Suzanne texted me a few months later that Cindy had died.  I was sad but knew her suffering was over. Cindy was a person of faith and I knew her family had comfort in that. Was I going to the wake?  I was in the middle of a week- long class. I had a guest staying at our home.  It was hot and I was mentally and physically tired.  I didn't even know Cindy that well. Suzanne called after attending and said people asked about the cardinals.  In fact, that simple mural had meant a lot.  I should go.  The church was by my house. I should go. So I changed my clothes and I went-with stain on my hands.  There was only one parking spot in the shade, under a large tree.  I stood in the line to offer my condolences. And I spoke with her father and mother at length about the cardinals.  Her Mom shared with me that she enjoyed art and making things with her hands. I was thinking I was glad I went and relieved I could go home when I saw it sitting on the branch above my car.

One single large cardinal.

Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause everything little thing gonna be alright.

I don’t know the why or the how but I understood the what. Be open to the Universe. It is trying to lead  me to answers.

I am the person that believes things happen for a reason. And every little thing is gonna be alright.



  1. Wow Rebecca. You nailed a bunch of my life/emotions.

    How timely. We just found out yesterday that a friend who was fine until about three weeks ago, then underwent emergency open heart surgery and has been on life support - awkward sentence, but his family is letting him go. He coded twice in past week. His body is trying to tell him - and us - something.

    I can't stop thinking about him and his wife and family. It has really given me some perspective. And I am trying to figure out how to be grateful for all the joy in my life in the midst of this sadness.

    Thank you for posting this.


  2. Thanks for sharing Kay and I am sorry for your loss. The best way to honor those that we love is to live our life every day in the best way we know how. As artists, that includes sharing our talents!