A Feather for Orlando

This morning, while at prayeFullSizeRenderr in my garden, I found a feather. It’s tiny, surely from either one of the breast feathers of a bird, or perhaps from one of the babies starting to appear. It’s a bluish grey and white. Fragile as a dandelion wisp.

I have a long history with feathers turning up in odd places. Once I came into my office — I was the only one at home, hadn’t been out — and there appeared a long white feather on my desk chair. It now sits in a porcelain bowl with some other objects and feathers that came to me by, let’s just say unusual¬† means. The white feather appeared shortly after my mother died. You decide what that means.

So, I picked it up this fragile wisp of air and earth and brought it inside, held in my hand with the FullSizeRendersame care I would take with a baby bird.

And then I heard the news about the shootings in Orlando.

To you, there may not be much to link the two, but to me it seems obvious. they are fragile. (I’m not saying LGBTQ people are fragile, but that people lying with gunshot wounds can be.) They can be overlooked. They are a symbol of life. To some of my ancestors, birds carry messages between the Creator and humans, for other ancestors, birds are the ones who lead us into the land of the dead. To my writer self, feathers are, as Emily Dickinson said, metaphors for hope.

Feathers also allow those who wear them to rise above the mud and muck, the blood and agony of this world. To fly, to rest upon the air, gives us perspective, allows us see the world as God might.

And… seeing with the perspective of the Creator/God means we cannot help but feel the pain the Creator/God/Allah feels when we are unspeakably savage to each other.

And…are we not told that the Creator/God/Allah/the Goddess cares for all of life, that all of life is precious beyond measure, even the most fragile of tiny birds… of sparrows.

Birds and feathers are also symbols of the soul — from a tiny egg, trapped in a shell, to a fledgling unable to stand or feed itself, to something that takes wing…soars…conquers the earth and air.

I will, as Mother Jones said, pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living. At the same time, I kneel in gratitude for tiny symbols reminding us that hate and ignorance and violence and savagery will not, in the long curve of time, prevail. No matter how fragile we may seem, we are not overlooked; we are not forgotten, we rise above.



  1. Karen Pratt on June 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Lauren, I am shocked and saddened by the Orlando shootings, and the many earlier incidents involving gun deaths. I join you in thinking there is meaning in the feathers that appear in your life, and I’ll pay more attention for them in mine. Thank you for your positive message.
    Kindly, Karen

    • Lauren B. Davis on June 13, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      thanks, Karen. As author Thomas King says, “Stay calm and look for the signs.”

  2. Barbara Samson on June 15, 2016 at 6:27 am

    That is lovely… “To my writer self, feathers are, as Emily Dickinson said, metaphors for hope.” Thanks Lauren.

    • Lauren B. Davis on June 15, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Thank YOU, Barbara.

  3. Lise Mayne on December 9, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Lauren. I hadn’t read this post before today but I have to share with you my experience with feathers. Have you heard the story of Julian Lennon’s white feather. His father John had said to him that when he passed he would send him a white feather as a signal that all was well. After his tragic death, Julian was in Africa and out of a clear blue sky, a white feather floated down to him. He calls his studio White Feather. Since I heard that, I always find a white feather when I think of my grandmother, who was the light of my childhood. I find them everywhere. I carry one in my coat pocket and in my purse. I release them as I find a new one. It’s quite miraculous.

    • Lauren B. Davis on December 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      What a wonderful story, Lise. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Blessings from your grandmother indeed.

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