In a cold antiseptic hospital room at St. Luke’s in Houston, my friend, a minister, sat beside the hospital bed. I will refer to as Bud (not his real name). In his ministry Bud had stood watch over many children of God before their hearts stopped beating.
Before their deaths, Bud, the minister, had prayed for miracles which never came. Prayed for cures which never materialized. Bud had given Last Rites to many. He had commended many spirits to God. This time was different. The patient, this child of God, was Bud’s father.
Days earlier the doctors had told Bud that death was near. Hours turned into days. Days into several weeks. When would death ever come? No matter how long it took, Bud was totally committed to sit next to his father until the very end.
Everyday Bud with a prayer book in his hands sat next to his dad. Bud’s dad prayed with him. Most of the time the hospital room was filled with silent prayers amidst the unwelcome and irritating sounds of blood pressure and heart monitors.
When Bud became stiff-legged from sitting too long, he paced the room. He walked across the room to look out the large window high above the 10th floor level of the hospital. It was comforting to look out the window to see the light, the life, the trees, and greenery below. The view out the window sharply contrasted with the ugliness of the impending death of the dad he loved.
Bud was very sleepy one morning. He wanted to stay awake and not miss a moment with his dad. A strong cup of coffee was needed. Bud asked his dad if he could go get a cup of black coffee and come right back to the room. Bud‘s father said, “Sure son, I will be OK. I will see you when you get back.”
Bud left. He returned a few minutes later with a hot cup of black coffee. Instead of finding his dad waiting for him, the end had come. Bud’s father had died. His father’s passing was missed because Bud went to get coffee. Bud felt shellfish and full of guilt for not being there.
Soon the nurses left the room to give Bud time alone with his father. Bud held his father’s hands. The hands were still warm. Bud always believed the holy spirit does not leave the body until the body is cold. Bud was comforted by the warmth which remained in his father’s body and hands.
Next, Bud did what ministers do. He gave his dad the Last Rites. Bud gave his dad a goodbye kiss on the forehead.
Bud tearfully walked toward the window. Bud needed light and warmth he had seen before outside the window. Even more, Bud needed a sign that life and love goes on after his dad’s death. Unexpectedly a sign came.
In disbelief Bud saw on the windowsill a beautiful cardinal looking into the room where his father’s dead body laid. A cardinal had always been his dad’s favorite bird.
What were the chances that any bird, much less a cardinal, would find its perch in a window above the tenth floor of St. Luke’s? At the exact moment after Bud had commended his dad’s spirit into the everlasting arms of God? To Bud, this was no mere coincidence. God was saying to Bud, “Be at peace my child. Your father is safe with me. My small, feathered angel will lead your dad home to me.”
God has spoken in Scripture as the significance of birds.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God”.
Let us pray.
Dear God, You have dominion over all things in Heaven and on Earth.
You are always present for me. In Your spirit. In Your grace. In Your everlasting love for me.
God, in prayer may I see more clearly see the signs of Your presence and love around me. Your heavenly angels. Your living angels who dwell near me.
God, I thank You for the dove which symbolizes Your holy spirit and the cardinal which symbolizes the angel of heaven. I thank You for Your living feathered angels. May I trust in You to send me an angel, like the cardinal, to one day lead me back home to You. Amen
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Ann Boland, Jack’s Publicist