Owl in the Palm Tree

Grab my coffee, rush out the door, shuffle through security, find my gate.  Board the first flight, rush to catch the second leg, bumpy descend into Tucson and finally wheels down.  I exhale as we taxi to the gate. Why am I doing this? Why did I arrange to present at a conference in Tucson, Arizona just days before I am scheduled to host a retreat in Utah?  To arrange to leave my kids, rearrange my practice schedule, go back and forth out west twice in 1 month – what was I thinking?

I hop on the shuttle to Miraval Resort and the driver hands me a 50 page booklet that covers every single class and spa treatment available from sun up to sun down for 7 straight days.  50 pages!? I leaf through the booklet and suddenly feel overwhelmed. On my way to a world class spa resort known for supporting deep relaxation and restoration and I’m overwhelmed. Should I sign up for the morning hike, or the floating meditation with gongs?  Should I catch this class on mindful eating or sign up for drumming with a Native American Indian guide? Oh – I don’t want to miss the chance to walk the labyrinth and swim in that pool. Wait…..what time am I speaking again? What time is dinner?

I gaze out the window and see a familiar Walgreens on a corner at the stoplight, but it’s surrounded by totally unfamiliar desert landscape of red rocks and cactus plants.  Where am I?  Wow this place looks like the surface of Mars! Then my thoughts drift to scorpions and rattlesnakes. Gee – that sounds relaxing too!?  

I check in to the resort, still holding on to my 50 page weekly guidebook to the offerings on site.  I am thinking of rushing into a class as soon as I get to my room, but then I tuned in. I paused and caught my breath and thought – why don’t you just chill out for an hour and settle in my sitting by the pool for a little while?  Why are you constantly rushing and thinking about the next thing on your list? Why not practice a little mindfulness here, sit for a moment and be present?

So I downshift to a lower gear energetically and stroll over to the pool.  I set myself all up under an umbrella, spread out my towel and set my magazines and water bottle on the table next to me.  Then I see a few women across at the base of a nearby palm tree taking photos of something at the top of the tree. I watch them for a few minutes, but I can’t see what they’re looking at.  I thought – it must be a pretty bird or something. They seemed captivated so I had to go look myself.

I walk over there and look up – and there he is.  I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was staring into the face of a huge male great horned owl.  He was perfectly content sitting on the branches of the palm tree, not far from the female who I discovered moments later was nesting in a planter box up on a second story balcony overlooking the pool area with a fierce, protective look in her eyes.  

There’s magic here, I thought to myself.

But then, just as quickly, I thought there’s magic everywhere.  We just need to pay attention, tune in and slow down to find it.  

If you know me, you know my fascination with owls.  I always search for them when I go up north. I look for them everywhere.  I listen for their calls and sometimes I hear them. I am such a fan of owls, I even went to a program at the Royal Oak Public Library years ago featuring live owls.  I sat in the front row with all the children to get a closer view of these incredible birds!

So why did I find these owls in the desert – where I least expected them to appear?  I take it as a sign! Owls can see in the dark. They use their intuitive knowing and keen observation skills to hunt for food and survive.  If you research the symbolism of an owl, they are sometimes known as “the announcer of death” which shamans believe can suggest the death or end of a life transition or change that’s happening in your life.  It can also suggest you’re ending a cycle of something that no longer serves your highest good. The owl symbolism can guide us past the veil of illusion or deception too. For me, the owl wisdom has everything to do with showing up in my most authentic self in my fullest sense of truth with a strong connection to my intuitive knowing.  

Turns out, when owls are nesting, they really never leave that area.  The female sat on her nest the entire time I was at the resort and the male was only gone from the palm tree early in the morning, probably to get food for the female.  It was such a treat to go visit them everyday! I spent a lot of time watching this pair throughout the 3 days I was there.

My take home message was clear.  Magical, miraculous messages happen all the time!  They are everywhere if we pause, pay attention and allow.  Take time to reflect on signs and symbols that show up in your life.  There are important lessons to learn from the owl in the palm tree!