A Long-Distance Gift of Wings

by Donna McLaughlin Schwender

Feather Bouquet Gift

Hope arrived on my doorstep today in the form of a large white envelope that had been lovingly gift-wrapped in paper featuring swoon-inducing fancy French words. Simply addressed to Donna McSchwender, a name I’ve only known my sister to use, its “First Class” stamp was an understatement to its contents. The package had made its transcontinental flight from an island off the coast of Washington to the red front door of my home in upstate New York, a mere 117 days after I had been blessed to meet the dear woman who had sent it to me.

The threads of my world became intertwined with those of this lovely lady in an online writing course that I dare say changed both of our lives in ways that we could not have foreseen. Somewhere along the way of sharing our stories, we came to discover that, not only had she actually raised her family in the small town that I currently live in, but we know many of the same people who still reside here. Never had the world seemed so small – so wonderful – so magical to me.

In the approximately 2,808 hours that we have now known one another, this soul sister has given me a newfound appreciation for the cliché of “someone knowing me better than I know myself.” As if the 24 feathers that had been lovingly labeled and placed inside the envelope weren’t enough of a gift, many of them are red, my favorite color. Some even have different colors on the reverse side. And polka dots?!? Oh my!!! Talk about eye candy! I have no idea why she also enclosed the glittery paper “13” (red, of course) that you see in the photo, but – perhaps the bigger question is – HOW did she know that’s my favorite number?!?

It only seems fitting that the container this beautiful bouquet of feathers will now reside in has a quote by Marjolein Bastin (an artist for Hallmark’s ‘Nature’s Sketchbook’ collection) on the lid that reads, “Finding a feather that a bird lost from his plumage is like finding a treasure! Always kneel down and take it as a gift from nature.”

Perhaps in yet another universal nudge, as I was preparing to arrange the feathers in the box, out fell an oId fortune cookie message reminding me to, “Do your work with your whole heart and you will succeed.” It brought a smile to my face as I could envision it being written (or kindly spoken to me) by my new friend.

I understand that some people would look at this pile of reclaimed finch, mallard, turkey, chicken, lovebird, macaw, and African Grey feathers as just another bunch of detritus littering the pathway of their world. I look at them though and I can’t help but see a glorious gift of wings. Something my friend would want me to have, to trust in, and to take flight with.

Receiving such an uplifting and inspiring gift has left me feeling as if my heart is regenerating nerves that died long ago. When and if I do take flight, you can be certain that these 24 feathers will have been sewn securely into my winged cape. Until then, I’ll simply keep gathering more feathers and offering up a prayer of gratitude for every one that falls like yet another gift into my life. Much like the many wonderful friends that have flown into my life these past few months….