The feathered shield

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 8, 2019

The special people in my life… stood all around me in a circle… They smiled, letting me know I was safe, cared for and strong. Then they each became a feather… The protective circle widened. —Tami Leigh

Wood sculptor Bob Goldsmith created this 61-cm-wide spruce shield for Tami Leigh based on her vision of hope and strength during a stressful time in her life.  Here it appears over Tami’s photo of the Fireside pond frequented by a Great Blue Heron. Collage by Warren Harbeck with photos by Tami Leigh

She came to Cochrane to meet my feathered friend Great Blue. She wound up introducing me to her feathered friends of a very different kind.

Longtime coffee companion Tami Leigh was so taken with last week’s column on the Great Blue Heron, that she asked me to take her to his favourite pond near Fireside, in hopes of meeting Great Blue herself. As it turned out, when we arrived, our elegant feathered friend was nowhere to be seen. But Tami took a photo of the pond, anyway, and this led to her sharing with me the story behind her magnificent sculpted spruce shield that’s all about feathers, friendship, identity and spirituality.

“Some time ago, during a meditation while going through a challenging time, I received a vision of the special people in my life who support, encourage and protect me,” she said. “They stood all around me in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, I was in the center. I turned slowly, looking at each of them. They smiled, letting me know I was safe, cared for and strong. Then they each became a feather. I could still see their faces and shoulders in the feather. Then they all slowly went to the ground in the circle around me. The protective circle widened. It was beautiful.”

She described the vision to her artist friend Bob Goldsmith, of Nanton, Alta. He interpreted it in a 61 cm (24 inch)-wide hand-sculpted spruce shield, drawing on an earlier vision Tami had had. “I felt I needed a shield to bounce off the negative and hurtful things,” she explained; “something that would protect me. That is where it began.”

At the centre of the shield is an acorn, a symbol for Tami of actualizing her unique potential, as explained by psychologist James Hillman in his “acorn theory.” (See Hillman’s 1997 book, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling.)

This was not just about herself, however, she added. The prayerful, protective relationship between her (the acorn) and her supportive friends (the feathers) is mutual. And in words that touched me deeply, she added: “You are one of those feathers, Warren.”

Thank you, Tami.


© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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