I slammed on my brakes as the owl tried to fly through the windshield of my car pulling up and away at the last millisecond. Driving over a mountain pass in the wee hours of the night, I am swimming in thankfulness that I did not plunge down the side of the mountain in a swerve. After taking a couple of deep breaths to get my awestruck mind back to thinking and focusing on the road, I wondered if it were the owl of death or the owl of wisdom. An owl that large in this area could only be a great horned owl. Completely distracted from my troubled thoughts I pondered the size – the wingspan covered the windshield – and the meaning of its appearance at that time.
My owl encounters since that night include: burrow and barn owls on Antelope Island, Verreaux’s eagle-owls in Tarangire, Africa, and a small hand-made leather owl my grandfather gave me from the jewelry chest of my deceased Russian grandmother. The little leather owl now hangs over my writing desk.
Symbols of wisdom in the western world and symbols of death in the eastern world, they come to me in my dreams as whispers of wisdom. In my dreams they tell me about people – their pain and the path they are on. They tell me why people do what they do. It frightens me sometimes to discover the whispers are true and not just a dream.