It is Sunday afternoon and the song of tui has caught my attention. That is not unusual – I hear the tui every morning when I wake up. But to hear the tui chattering in the middle of the day instead of dawn or dusk is different. So I heard her singing and walked into the backyard to see what she had to show me. After all, a tui is a messenger and I am constantly on the lookout for signs.

“Time passes in moments… moments which, rushing past define the path of a life just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed. But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?” …… “What if there was only one choice and all the other ones were wrong? And there were signs along the way to pay attention to.” – Dana Scully, The X-Files, ‘All Things’.

Why look for signs? There are some people who don’t believe the world is a magic place anymore, if it ever was. It is all construction of our own will and coincidence. I prefer to believe there is an element of mystery. That we create from the hand we are dealt and the opportunities that come our way. Each choice is a signpost on the way and there are signs everywhere, if we choose to look and if we choose to see.

It’s a dance, I think. The more you look, the more you’ll see the language the universe is speaking in. It is no coincidence I have three messenger birds tattooed on my arm. The world is full of messages, if we will learn to tune in.

Some people say ‘when feathers appear, angels are near’, an assurance that someone is watching over them. I see feathers from time to time, almost always in the seasons of life that are challenging and chasing me. The first one I remember was in New York, when I needed someone to be watching over me perhaps more than I ever have before or since. That trip, I came to believe that no matter where I went in life or whatever happened next, I was going to make my own pathway through it.

And there were signs along the way to pay attention to.

Rolling down long stretches of American highway in the dark night, a green glow lights up in the distance. Eventually it comes barreling past me. The same destination written on the sign, just 50 miles closer than the last sign. 50 miles is a long way to drive in the dark without a single assurance that you’re still on the right road. Even though you haven’t met an intersection for hours, that road can be daunting and lonely. Fear and frustration like to turn up too, but all you need is another signpost to let you know you’re still heading in the right direction and therefore getting closer all the time.

I see a feather and my mind whispers to my soul, ‘You’re on the right path still, just keep going. Stay the course.’

Is it an angel, the universe or my desire to find evidence that supports what I believe to be true? It doesn’t matter. The meaning of the sign is for me and me alone. But I prefer a world with magic in it. I look and listen for the signs while I wait.

I’ve learned that things take time; these tiny fragments of life that rush past but when compressed together move like glaciers. I am never patient enough at first. Slowly, because time will teach you that slow is sometimes good I have realized the value in taking the long, dark road despite how lonely and daunting it appears. There are some things you can only learn on the slow road.

There are some dreams you simply can’t make happen yourself, you can only get ready for when the moment is right and the choice appears before you. I think there is a serendipity between getting ready and when the moment arrives.  Few of us are born ready for the things we aspire to, let alone born with the vision to see the true possibilities. You have to learn how to learn what you discover you need along the way. And then learn to see the signs along the way so you don’t lose your path. In fact, some of us need to learn to see in entirely different ways.

A long time ago, I had a dream and I learned I needed to let it go – so my fragment of a vision could grow and become something new. I buried the seed and let it go. For a long time, I’ve been walking down the highway of that dream, realizing at times what the collection of moments have given me in wisdom, understanding and personal growth. So I am closer, but I have no idea where or if the road will end.

Today, the tui sang and I walked into the backyard to see it eating from the ripe, sweet fruit on the apple tree. It looked up at me and sang again. We share a moment and then a moment more. The tui flew into the tree behind the apple tree in the far back corner of the yard. I walked quietly and encountered the most amazing fragrance. It was sweet and tart and almost tangy. I looked at the tui, sitting in the tree that has never borne fruit in the 6 years I’ve lived in this house.

The fragrance was intoxicating and coming from the corner of earth littered with dark red fruit, the grass and dirt stained pink from the bursting skins. The tree itself was still heavy laden on every possible branch. The tui sang once more and took flight back to the apple tree, message delivered.

The winter is over. The tree that was bare has borne fruit. Stay the course, don’t give up.

Seeds buried might grow to trees and even then, you might wait another season before the tree bears fruit. But keep reading the signs along the way and you’ll be ready, when the moment comes. Pay attention.