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Cardinal Medicine

Native American traditions hold the spiritual belief that every being and every element of the universe is inhabited by a soul, or consciousness. All birds and other animals are messengers from the Great Spirit, or sometimes called the Source of all that is.

There are traditional universal messages that are inherent to each specific creature that appears to you, but the message is also strongly influenced by what you are doing and what you are thinking and feeling at the time of the appearance.

“When the journey to wholeness is completed, the journey within it begins.”

Cardinal on a Fencepost

I was contemplating this quote from a course I am studying when a bright red cardinal caught my eye. He was attempting to get a drink from the small birdbath I keep in my back yard. Water is precious in the desert, especially in the July heat. The cardinal would make his way up to the water, take one look and flutter off. I watched him repeat this process several times. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t drink, why he was acting like there was a big old monster in the water.

I thought of what I know about cardinal medicine and it didn’t seem to fit this situation. Then I took another look at what I had been studying and the questions swirling around in my mind.

I know all about the journey to wholeness, I long ago accepted that it would be long and hard. But I thought that when you got there, you were there, period. The hard work would be worth it and all the struggle would be over and there would be deep peace.

Now I have to think about the journey within wholeness??? What could that be?

It occurred to me how important it is to make this a conscious transition, to realize when the journey to wholeness has come to an end and celebrate it. This is a time to let go of searching for answers no one has and reaching for something no one can give you because you finally understand that it was living, hidden, inside you all along.

The journey is about delving into your shadow and your false self beliefs and behaviors, like slowly and painstakingly cleaning an old mirror covered with ancient grime and hideous stains so thick that it’s nearly impossible to see an image of yourself in it. Only occasionally you would see a bit of your image shining through brightly, but you looked away because you didn’t believe what you saw and it frightened you.

A bit like that cardinal who was spooked away from something he wanted and in fact his survival depended on, he was afraid of his own reflection seen on the surface of the water.

Somehow though you remain mostly diligent about this task. Oh sometimes you got distracted with other jobs, relationships, family, your health, money, and of course the illusive opinion that society has about what you should see in that mirror. You stumbled over the fear that you could never fit that image. Yet you felt a compulsion, something deep inside that calls you back again and again to your journey towards wholeness.

Slowly as more and more life experiences turn out to be less than satisfactory, your commitment grows to do that inner work, and momentum builds as the universe moves to support your journey. You somehow end up on a particular web site or someone gives you a book, and it is exactly what you need in that moment to clear a bit more grime off the image you see when you look at yourself.

The journey towards wholeness might take a few months, a few years, or many many lifetimes. But eventually the awareness of the journey itself arrives fully in your consciousness.

Consciousness is the power to be aware and the power to choose.

Now suddenly you wonder what all the procrastination was about because you feel an urgency behind your deeply felt certainty that nothing could possibly be more important to you than seeing with crystal clarity exactly who you are.

The mirror has come clean, you gaze deeply into your own eyes, and you see your heart overflowing with the most amazing love. At first you want nothing more than to bask in the incredible energy of that love. You love the eyes that are gazing back at you, the body that is uniquely yours and carries your unique story. You can see the beauty of a very old soul who has come to the end of a very long journey.

As a bit of time goes by, you notice you are easily and naturally breathing more deeply, drinking more water, and thinking better feeling thoughts. You are more patient with yourself and others. You use all the tools learned along the way making it easy to walk your talk. You take time to appreciate the life you have lived so far, including all the adventures and misadventures, seeing the valuable lessons each one had for you.

You know now that wholeness is a feeling of oneness with all that is. Your consciousness continues to expand as your awareness grows. The love inside you expands too – until one day that love begins to spill out. A door has opened, and a channel formed.

You realize who you are is that channel through which love flows abundantly from the Source of the universe and out into creation.

You become aware that your consciousness has expanded fully into your power to choose.

Your journey to wholeness is complete and the journey within it has begun.