Signs are all around us

The Covington News - - Opinion - BAR­BARA MOR­GAN COLUM­NIST

It’s some­thing that hap­pens all the time and to each of us. We’ve got a mo­men­tous de­ci­sion to make, or even a small one, and the way isn’t clear. There’s as much to rec­om­mend one course of ac­tion as the other, but nev­er­the­less, we’ve got to choose.. So what do most of us do? We start look­ing – pray­ing – for a sign, some lit­tle nudge to go one way or the other.

So what con­sti­tutes a sign that could af­fect our de­ci­sion-mak­ing or even a life’s di­rec­tion? It will be dif­fer­ent for ev­ery one of us. Some might see a sign in pass­ing three red cars in a row, so we’ll de­cide to buy a red car. Some will see a sign of an early, on­com­ing and cold fall and win­ter, when some Au­gust leaves be­gin to turn golden. Stuck in an im­mov­able traf­fic jam, some will see it as a sign of be­ing pro­tected from an ac­ci­dent or trou­ble fur­ther up the road. Many peo­ple con­fi­dently – and of­ten cred­i­bly– be­lieve it is a “sign” when some­thing much de­sired doesn’t come to pass. There­fore, it just wasn’t meant to be and some­thing bet­ter is com­ing their way.

When we lose some­one dear, many of us are anx­ious for sig­nals from be­yond, some notice the loved one is happy and peace­ful in that place over the rain­bow. We seek a sense of their pres­ence to sus­tain the bond we felt with them here on earth. The un­ex­pected scent of my fa­vorite un­cle’s sweet-smelling pipe tobacco did that for me some months af­ter he passed on. I knew with­out a doubt that he was reach­ing out to me to soothe my aching heart. Some find mes­sages from the other world when a feather lands at their feet. I had just such a col­lec­tion un­til the kit­ties found it. Many peo­ple be­lieve in “pen­nies from heaven” as mes­sages from loved ones when they find a penny in a cu­ri­ous lo­ca­tion. Thurs­day’s “Dear Abby” col­umn in the AJC ran a let­ter from a reader who found a penny strangely lodged in the lit­tle fin­ger of her biking gloves and took it as a sign from her beloved and re­cently de­ceased brother

While we were look­ing sev­eral years ago for an in-town lot on which to build, one lot clearly “spoke” to me. Its street num­ber could be re­duced to “88,” the year we mar­ried; one high-heeled pump – just my size – lay aban­doned at curb­side; and as we watched, a mother Ger­man Shep­herd and her pup loped along the back lot line – we had two shep­herds at the time. Surely this were where we were meant to build, and so we did. We never saw those shep­herds again.

Ac­cord­ing to the Au­gust is­sue of “Psy­chol­ogy To­day,” we hu­man be­ings are hard­wired to look for pat­terns to make sense out of what we see and ex­pe­ri­ence. It be­gins at the ear­li­est mo­ments of our abil­ity to per­ceive and con­trib­utes to one’s sur­vival and suc­cess. Matthew Hut­son, au­thor of the ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “The Un­bear­able Un­cannni­ness of Be­ing” and of the book “The 7 Laws of Mag­i­cal Think­ing,” writes: “The job of the con­scious mind is to form a story out of all our sen­sa­tions and re­flec­tions. Life as we ex­pe­ri­ence it is not just a se­ries of un­con­nected thoughts and events; it’s a co­her­ent nar­ra­tive un­fold­ing in an or­derly uni­verse. But some­times we have ex­pe­ri­ences that don’t fit our ex­pec­ta­tions and may even con­tra­dict what sci­ence has taught us is pos­si­ble. In our at­tempts to ac­com­mo­date such out­lier phe­nom­ena, we of­ten turn to un­proven forces or en­ti­ties. We start to be­lieve in the para­nor­mal.” The word, an ad­jec­tive, is de­fined as “not within the range of nor­mal ex­pe­ri­ence or sci­en­tif­i­cally ex­plain­able phe­nom­ena.” (With­out any doubt or de­lib­er­a­tion, the be­liefs ex­pressed by Mis­souri’s Repub­li­can Rep. Todd Akin re­gard­ing rape – le­git­i­mate rape vs., ap­par­ently, il­le­git­i­mate rape – meet the def­i­ni­tion of para­nor­mal.)

I know a big and tall salt-of-the-earth type of guy who spends most of his time be­hind the wheel of a big rig or a dump truck or a farm trac­tor – when he’s not on his horse pick­ing his way on some rut­ted trail in the woods. His ed­u­ca­tion about life has been hard won, worked out in his own head while toil­ing in the hot sun or un­der the tute­lage of his now de­ceased fa­ther who passed on his own hard won wis­dom to this son he kept close at hand. This man’s kind of work has its ups and downs. Some­times there’s work, and some­times there’s not. He told me re­cently that when he’s feel­ing a bit down and out, a lit­tle gloomy or de­pressed, he’ll keep his eyes out for but­ter­flies. “If I see a but­ter­fly, I know ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be okay,” he said. I like that.

Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics.

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