Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cardinal Caller

My parents are a pair of northern snowbirds who loved spending every winter and the early months of spring vacationing at their favorite campground near the community of Marathon,
 in the beautiful Florida Keys

Big Pine Key

Several years ago,  Dad and Mom had just returned from their annual pilgrimage south.  Mom called me early one morning in mid-April to let me know that they were home.
  She then preceded to tell me a strange and remarkable story about what happened to her and my father shortly after leaving The Keys.

My parents were driving north along the highway, pulling their large travel trailer behind their truck, when a sudden, loud thud startled them both.

"What on earth was that noise?" Mom asked with alarm.

My father behind the wheel glanced into the truck's side mirrors.
"It sounded like something in the road hit the bottom of the trailer," he said.  It might have been a rock.  I'll check it when we stop tonight."

My parents were the owners of a small trucking company in southern New Jersey. Due to some pressing business matters, they were anxious to get home and were traveling as far as they could that day until darkness fell. That evening they stayed in a campground near Titusville, Florida.

The next morning, Dad checked out the trailer for any damage. Seeing nothing unusual, he went to start up the truck only to find that the battery had died overnight.  He  then walked up to the campground office to see about getting the battery re-charged, leaving Mom alone at the  trailer.

 Meanwhile, Mom was busy tidying up the trailer and getting ready to cook breakfast. As she went about her work, she was startled by a sudden sharp rapping sound on the window in the living  room.

 To her genuine surprise,  there was a beautiful red cardinal  hovering only  inches from the glass.  The little bird lingered for a moment and then flew  away to perch on the lowest branch of a pine tree at the edge of the campsite.
  Mom  was truly amazed and stood there for a few minutes watching him. 

 The bird seemed to be staring right back at her. 

Northern Cardinal
(Male Bird)

  A few minutes later,  she had resumed doing  her morning chores, when the familiar rap-tap-tapping came again, this time on the rear window of the trailer.   Mom looked and there was the same cardinal. This time he was perched on top of the bicycle rack attached to the  back of the trailer and when he saw my mother he began chirping frantically at her. His shiny black eyes seemed to be pleading with her as his sharp little beak rapped again on the glass

"Are you hungry fella?" Mom asked him.

She went out to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of raw oats from a canister.  The brilliant red bird had once again flown away and was sitting in the pine tree.

   Mom opened the nearby  window and threw out the oats on the ground for him.  She then turned her attention to getting  breakfast ready for Dad and herself.  While stirring the pot of oatmeal she was cooking, Mom occasionally glanced over at the window. From her vantage point in the trailer kitchen, she could clearly see the pine tree where the bird sat motionless, perched on a branch a few feet above the ground.  Although she thought it was silly, my mother could not shake the strange feeling that this bird with  brilliant red feathers was watching her through the glass.

When Dad returned from the campground office, breakfast was ready and waiting. While they ate, Mom told him about the curious behavior of the cardinal.

"Maybe he saw his reflection in the glass and thinks it's another bird," Dad  surmised.  Some birds are territorial."

While they ate, my parents occasionally looked over at the pine tree.  Like a little red sentinel, the cardinal remained perched on the branch, motionless, looking right back, or so it seemed, at my parents seated on the other side of the glass.

After breakfast, my parents still had to wait for the truck's battery to fully recharge, so they decided to stretch their legs and take a walk, along with their dog, Shiloh, around the campground.

 Before they left the trailer, Mom glanced over at the pine tree.  The cardinal was still there.

 About thirty minutes later, my parents returned to the campsite and began preparing for that day's long drive ahead of them.

With the battery now fully re-charged, Dad was checking
 the truck's oil.  Meanwhile, Mom went back inside to tidy up the kitchen when she suddenly remembered to ask my father to look over the trailer once again before they pulled out.
Turning back to her work, she happened to look over at the window to see that the cardinal had not moved from his perch.

A few minutes later, Mom was busy inside the trailer finishing up some last minute details, when Dad called, asking her to bring him a flashlight.  Grabbing one from a drawer in the kitchen,
   Mom went back outside and found my father standing by the hitch between the truck and the trailer. 

 While she held the light for him,  Dad reached down into the well of the truck's fifth wheel and pulled out what looked like a large piece of broken metal.
 "This is the thud we heard yesterday," he told my mother, holding it out for her to see.

 "What is that?" she asked him.

"It's part of the safety mechanism which secures the trailer to the truck," he explained to her.  It must have broke off and landed in the well.  We've been traveling only partially hitched up. Thank God we did not come apart on the road yesterday."

Mom felt a chill run through her.  Just the thought of the terrible danger they had been in, traveling all those miles, often through heavy traffic, running over rough and uneven portions of highway, with their large truck only partially hitched to their equally large trailer...  but then, making it safely all the way to the campground in Titusville without a mishap...

It was nothing short of a miracle!

My parents offered up a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for keeping them safe.

Mom then headed back inside the trailer to finish her last minute travel preparations.  She also happened to glance over at the pine tree on the edge of the campsite.

The beautiful red cardinal was gone.

Since hearing this incredible story, I have often wondered about the mysterious Cardinal Caller.

   Why did he seem so anxious to grab my mother's attention? Was he merely seeing himself in the window and was trying to challenge his own reflection in the glass?

Throughout the Bible, angels have served as God's messengers sent to earth on special missions and to protect His people from danger. 
The beautiful red bird did manage to distract my mother from her normal morning routine with his strange and persistent tapping and chirping at the windows of the trailer.   

 And, his lingering presence in the pine tree certainly helped to delay the time of my parents' departure that morning- along with the dead truck battery- long enough for Mom to remind Dad to check over the trailer again, which led them both to the shocking discovery that they had traveled all that long way from Big Pine Key to Titusville, a trip of over three hundred miles, with the trailer only partially hitched to the truck. 

Again, I believe this was nothing short of a miracle.

 Furthermore, I am more convinced than ever that not only is the God of the Universe concerned with the minute details of our lives, but, there is certainly no doubt, at least in my mind, that it could have only been the work of angels, and in particular, a little red winged creature sent from heaven, who saw my parents safely off on their long journey home.

"For He will give His angels
especial charge over you to
accompany and defend and preserve 
you in all your ways, of
obedience and service."
Psalm 91:11

Written By Pamela Denise Brida

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