Cardinal Consolation

This week I came across a writing of mine from 2006, one of a series of weekly articles for our church newsletter. A sweet memory and good counsel, from my long-ago self:

Cardinal Consolation

Well, Sandy made it sixteen years.  She would be the last to want a sappy send-off.  Not cat-like. So we held her Holy Saturday funeral in silence.  Her younger brother the dog lay down by her grave and moaned, but other than that, no words were spoken. 

She had fallen silent herself the day before—she chose Good Friday to stop her awful railing against blindness, to stop walking in pitiful frustrated circles. 

As the day unfolded, she stopped all extraneous movement and sound altogether.  The bottom line for her was to settle against my heart, purring, and wait.  Enough for her to be in my arms, to know that Austin, Robert, and Rusty the dog were close by, keeping watch. 

And so Easter weekend was especially poignant this year.  I confess I am taking the death of this faithful little feline very hard. But I make no excuses.  She was dear, and sixteen years of friendship is a long time. 

This morning as I dressed to go to Bible study, I heard something outside, a voice close to Sandy’s resting place.  It was a male northern cardinal, singing his heart out, no doubt to attract a lovely lady of his species.  But I took it as a note of encouragement, a suggestion to give thanks, remember, and let Sandy go. 

The message?  “What? Cheer!  What? Cheer!  What? Cheer!”  There are friends gathering, a Bible lesson to be taught.  So one had best take heart, and get on with it. 

So it goes, in the life of a family, the life of a community, the life of a church.  There will continue to be long stretches of “ordinary time,” punctuated by surging joy, and body-blows of pain.  Through it all, we keep loving, trusting, and praying, often with sighs too deep for words.  We keep claiming the anguish of Good Friday, the hush of Holy Saturday, the glory and power and promise of Easter. 

And underneath it all, the everlasting arms. 

Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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