Foxes, Cardinals and Rainbows: Looking for Positive "Signs" During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

by Patricia Giniger Snyder

Rainbow in Eden (really)

Okay, I admit it. I’m an optimist, but COVID-19 certainly has made being upbeat a full-time job. Governor Cuomo of New York recently said, “Our actions determine our destiny.” While he was referring to self-isolating, I also took it to mean doing what we can to prevent sadness, fear and anger from seeping in.

My solution has been to meditate every morning, work, limit my intake of news (particularly the daily WH press briefings), zoom with friends and family, learn to knit and play mahjong, focus on a challenging 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and of course, binge-watched TV shows! Plus, I’ve made it a practice to repost positive and humorous stories/images on Facebook and Instagram. Not hard.

I’m also playing a personal game I’ve played most of my life, and that is, paying attention to the “signs,” and specifically positive signs to help get through all this.

On a particularly challenging day, not long after we learned the virus had taken the life of a dear friend’s brother, I couldn’t shake my melancholy. So I took a walk, hoping for "a sign" to help me out of my doldrums. I got more than I had hoped for, which really buoyed my spirits.

As my blog of April 2nd explained, my husband, Adam, and I don’t have a home because we’ve been digital vagabonds traveling the world for over three years. But thanks to Adam’s sister and her husband, we are living with them on Cape Cod. The Cape is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the bay on the other, so taking a walk means going to a beautiful spot, for which we are eternally grateful.

On that challenging day, I walked to the bay. It was overcast, reflecting my gloomy mood. Quite unexpectedly my first cousin Jeannie called from California. We started talking about our Great Grandmother, Sarah, who died of the Spanish flu in 1918. Her daughter -- our Grandma Jennie -- was a young mother then; my Uncle Stanley (Cousin Jeannie’s father) was just a year and a half. Grandma never spoke about that pandemic, but we imagined how difficult it must’ve been for the her after the death of her mother to stay strong and healthy for herself, her husband and Stanley. “Grandma Jennie must have been so brave,” we said.

Just then, the sun popped through the clouds. Sign #1.

Then about 20 feet away, a bright red fox scampered in front of me like it was running in the marathon. It probably didn’t even notice I was there. Jeannie was at the computer and looked up what it means when a red fox crosses your path. While there are a lot of folktales about foxes, one explanation that stood out is that “the fox, as a spirit animal, reveals itself during times of great and unpredictable change.” Sign #2. It further said that “you have the skill in finding solutions to problem circumstances by using all your hidden abilities.” Sign #3.

With the sun still shining, I turned to walk back to the house when I saw a brilliant red cardinal in a nearby bush. Cousin Jeannie read me, “The word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. Like a door’s hinge, the cardinal is the hinge on the doorway between earth and spirit. They carry messages back and forth.” Hmm, an optimistic message from Grandma Jennie. Sign #4.

The description further said, “Allow your cardinal sightings to bring you a feeling of peace.” Nice. Sign #5.

Even though we were working while living life untethered, it felt like we were on a permanent vacation. Being in beautiful places and having new adventures made it easy to feel happy, all the time.

Every once in a while a magnificent rainbow would appear, like the one in Eden, Utah and it confirmed “dreams that you dared to dream really do come true.”

The thing to know about "signs" is that they are always there, but the key is seeing them and figuring out their messages. Nature leaves many clues. It's Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Fall in the Southern, and there are many "signs" of rebirth everywhere. But then again, sometimes the "sign" can be as simple as your dog coming over and sitting on your lap just when you are feeling blue. Or a cat lying on your newspaper to prevent you from reading too much of the news. Or getting an unexpected call from your first cousin.

The other day the friend who lost her brother-in-law to the virus posted a photo of the rainbow she had taken which appeared over New York City. Photos of that rainbow have been circulated everywhere.

Yes, the message is clear. Someday, someday soon, we will “wake up where the clouds are far behind us, and troubles will melt like lemon drops.”

Stay positive! Stay safe!

Rainbows in Las Vegas, Montana, over Miami, in the Galapagos and inside in Colorado

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