Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Art of Dying – Drs Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick
The first appearance of the owl was on one warm April morning, some months after the death of Oliver's grandmother. Oliver's mother here describes what happened.
There was a terrific commotion outside the kitchen, caused by our garden birds. When I went out to see what all the fuss was about, the birds were dive-bombing an owl which sat on one of the lower branches of the oak tree. It seemed strange that an owl was out in the middle of the day, and although the small birds were trying to frighten it away, it just sat quietly in the tree, mewing every now and then...
As the day warmed up I opened the French windows on the south side of the house. When I stepped out into the garden, there was a great flapping of wings and the owl flew down and landed right in front of me on, the grass. It was a large tawny owl about 12 inches high. It looked up at me with big brown eyes and mewed.
It seemed very tame. Thinking that it might have escaped from somewhere, I telephoned the police to see if anyone had lost a tame owl, but they had no record of it.
During the day, every time I went outside, the owl would come down and stand in front of me, mewing. It was almost as if it was trying to say something. The big brown eyes looked so human and reminded me of my mother, also brown-eyed, who had died the previous summer, and it was rather a nice thought that perhaps there was some little message in the owl being there . . . When my husband and children came home that evening I told them about the owl but thought no more about it.
We always sleep with our top windows open, and that night when we switched off the lights, there was a lot of scuffling and rustling at the window and the owl came down to sit on the window, a behaviour that my husband didn't like at all.
The next morning was a Saturday and we were all having a leisurely breakfast in the kitchen. It was already hot and I opened the kitchen windows. No sooner had I opened the large window over the sink, than there was a great flurry of wings and the owl flew right into the kitchen and up to the large chimney-breast over the Aga. It seemed best for the children and my husband to go out and close the doors while I opened the outside door, hoping to coax it outside, but it seemed to be quite at home in the kitchen. It flew down to the other end and onto the curtain rail and watched me.
It had a tremendous wing-span and it was remarkable that nothing was knocked over or broken. Eventually it flew out of the window. The owl sat on the back porch, and when we went out to the car later that morning, it came straight down, and perched on the pot I was carrying. As we drove out of the gate, it sat on the gate-post watching us.
My husband asked me not to feed it again, although I would have liked to have kept it around. It came down to our window again that night and to the porch the next day, but not down to my feet. After a few days it disappeared, but every now and then I heard the sound of it mewing nearby.