A turtle, bear and fox walk into a bar? Back in the day, a lot of jokes started with this kind of sentence. And the story just got sillier as the joke unfolded with a lot of “guffaws” at the end of the joke. If this were my personal joke, though, they’d walk into a coffee shop, since I’ve been purposely sober for a long time.

But what really happened?

In the same Sunday, a turtle, a bear (via video) and a fox strolled into my life. Since they are my top three totem animals, I had to see what the message from the Universe was. Here’s how it unfolded.

Turtle steps into my path

Box Turtle

I met the box turtle on a path in Fort Hunt Park. It was my usual Sunday morning walk with doggies Tibor and Stella. This turtle didn’t box itself in. Instead, it just sat there and looked at me. So I walked Tibor and Stella gingerly around it. As I passed, I caressed it on its back and said, “Nice to see you!” And I meant it.

Bear takes a stroll

A turtle, a bear and a fox

Later that Sunday, I was working on the second edition of my book, Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans During Animal Transitions. I nudged the computer mouse by mistake and a story popped up that stopped me in my tracks. I watched a black bear stroll down the aisle of a Ralph’s grocery store in Porter Ranch, California. I’m sure she was looking for honey!

Fox screams a lullaby

A turtle, a bear and a fox

Finally, at about 10 PM Sunday night, I took the dogs for their final walk. We don’t go far because Stella has trouble walking. But she’s still up for the walk as long as she gets to pee and sniff!

I heard a cry that sounded like

… a cat howling in distress

.. a dog yelping in distress

…an upset toddler

… a FOX!

It’s in the grassy area on the other side of the Mount Vernon House. I hadn’t seen a fox in our area for a couple years. So we walk over to take a closer look. Yup, I see her. I whistle to get her attention and say hi! She turns her head, looks at us and stops for a bit. Then we all go on our way.

A Turtle, a Bear and a Fox?

It’s not until the next day that I realize that this can’t be a coincidence! Three totem animals in one day?  I’m still puzzling it out, but here’s what I’ve got so far.

Why am I sharing this with you?

I believe this message is for all of us, not just me. And it applies whenever you read this! That’s the lovely secret of gifts from Creator. They have no expiration date.

So, as you read this, please ask yourself how does this resonate with you?

Crying inconsolably

I’ve been crying inconsolably off and on for a month. Try not to judge me too harshly.

My crying is the kind that overtakes you with deep, gulping sobs. The sobs that come unannounced when you lose someone very close. A partner, a parent, a child, a good friend or a beloved animal companion.

I told my husband Charlie. And of course, being the logical guy he is, Charlie asked the logical question. “Have you checked in with all the humans you love?” Good Idea! I talked to my kids, my sisters (niece and nephew), and Debbie and Aunt Norma in Buffalo.

Being me, I checked in with my older dogs and cats (I have four) to see if they were nearing the end of their life.

Nothing explained my grief.

Until the 2021 Climate Change Report

Coincidentally the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its sixth report on the health of the natural world in 2021. When my husband, who is my personal news reporter told me, “Basically, we’re f***. ” (He’s a sailor, okay?)

I cried as if someone I loved had died

And  I finally understood the message. I was mourning the fact that Earth is having trouble sustaining our lives. This is the first paragraph of the World Resources Institute’s 5 Big Findings from the IPCC’s 2021 Climate Report.

“Headlines related to recent extreme weather appear to come out of a science fiction book: Even the richest countries in the world can’t control widespread fires — they’re even burning in the Arctic. Deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium in July 2021 completely washed away buildings and cars, and more than 1,000 people remain missing. Hundreds died in flooding in China. The U.S. Pacific Northwest, known for its cool climate, hit over 100 degrees F for several days. And the Arctic lost an area of sea ice equivalent to the size of Florida between June and mid-July 2021.

I’m old enough to remember this scene the great 1967 movie, The Graduate. Sadly, I feel the irony deep in my DNA as the savvy business man gives his best advice to the college graduate.

The Graduate "One Word: Plastics"

Yup, plastics contribute to global warming.

A spiritual perspective

For a spiritual perspective, I opened Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, Live of the Beloved, Spiritual Living in a Secular World, written in the mid-90s, and found this staring at me:

“I notice in myself how often my body is tense, how I usually keep my guard up and how seldom I have a complete feeling of being at home. If I then turn to the Toronto suburbs where I live and see the pretentious mega-houses, the ugly shopping malls strewn about to make consumption more efficient and the alluring billboards promising comfort and relaxation in very seductive ways – all of that while forests are demolished, streams dried up, deer and rabbits and birds driven out of my environment – I am not surprised that my body screams for a healing touch and reassuring embrace.”

So what do Turtle, Bear and Fox have to share about our planet?

When we came into your presence, Maribeth, we remind you that there’s always hope. Life asserts itself. Life will continue to assert itself. Gaia will find a way to continue. And we Non Humans want to remind you of our desire to continue on this planet.

Through my totems, Spirit/Creator asks us,

How will you humans cherish the gift you’ve been given?

What does being human mean to you? Are you still biological creations filled with spirit or machines tied to material needs?

Life is about balance and balance will be restored. Balance will be restored.

Reclaim your connection to the natural world. Find the beauty Creator has given all of us.

Remember you’re a part of the natural world. Nurture yourselves through the world that exists beyond the human-created. Join the other creatures of the world.

Spirit, through my Totems, asks us to restore our world and, in doing so, begin to heal ourselves.

Read my blog, They’re not dumb animals