Flicker of hope


Like many people wanting “more” out of life, I am often in search of the thing that will be the answer.

Recently, I’ve been finding feathers everywhere. Mostly crow feathers. The internet tells me that this a sign that I am being protected and am not alone. When I asked my energy worker during a reiki session if I was just being crazy or if all these feathers were really signs from my angels (I want to believe, my best friend seemed skeptical), she barely let me finish before interjecting—“Rebirth!”

All this was on my mind yesterday as I wound my way home from running errands with my dog. She stopped to sniff a patch of grass and I bent down. I’d asked the universe to send me a sign about the feathers by leaving one in my path—a Northern flicker, not a crow—before I got home. I was not feeling optimistic, but wasn’t feeling overly pessimistic about what it would mean if I didn’t find one, either.

With no feathers in sight, I did what I usually do when I’m faced with a patch of grass: I began to search for four leaf clovers. I am unusually good at finding them, mostly by the driveway at my parents’ house, where I’ve found and pressed dozens. They’re saved on my fridge, on my work computer screen, in my ID badge holder. Reminders that I am good at this—that I am lucky.

My eyes worked their way through the clovers in the parking strip. My dog huffed in the scent of something or someone else who had recently been in the spot she now shoved her nose into. I inhaled, thinking how mostly people would completely ignore these clovers. How to most people, feathers are just random debris that litters the sidewalk. How the world is a matter of perspective.

Then, all of a sudden, something caught my eye through the bottom of my glasses. I wear large tri-focal lenses, and it took my eyes a second to adjust to the larger view at the bottom of the lens. I realized there were ants all over the sidewalk, and what’s more, there were ants crawling over my sandals and exposed feet. I stomped a few times to shake them off and pulled on my dog’s leash.

“C’mon, Mag,” I prompted her.

I thought about how ironic it was, that all the while I was lost in my thoughts about how I was seeing things no one else would notice, I was missing something most people would notice—something I would usually notice.

I crossed the street, a smile tugging on one corner of my mouth. Good reminder to slow down and be in the moment, I thought. Focus on what’s here and not always what we hope will be.

I googled the symbolism of ants. It’s patience and strength.

I found about six feathers today: two white, one black and white, and at least three crow. No Northern Flicker yet, no four leaf clover, but I’m slowing down and being patient. I’m sure I’ll find both, sooner or later.


LISA SHAWCROFT is a holistic wellness coach based in Seattle. She loves dogs, laughing, snuggling her nephew, and true crime. She believes shit that happens in our lives is merely fertilizer to help us grow.

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