I Heard the Owl Call My Name is a novel written in 1967 by Margaret Craven that I read in seminary. It tells the story of a young Anglican vicar named Mark Brian who while dying learns about the meaning of life when he is sent to serve a First Nations tribe at a parish in British Columbia. Tribal tradition says that an owl calling the name of a person means that that person will soon die.
The myths are the village and the winds and the rain . . . .The village is the talking bird, the owl, who calls the name of the man who is going to die…
Yesterday while mowing the lawn, I heard and saw an owl. This seldom seen ‘friend’ has woken me up at night, scared and taken my breath away with its beauty and presence in the many trees around my house. Yesterday it reminded me of death, not because I heard it call anyone’s name, but because our house is on the market and soon I will not have the ability to experience peace, the handiwork of God and the wildlife who share this sanctuary my wife and I have called home.
I was reminded of my attachment to this material place and thankfully in the promise of baptism, find comfort in daily dying and rising. In grieving the part of my life that is in transition, including living in this place, I find comfort knowing that God will provide a new life in the new place God has called me to. I may not know when this house will sell, where I’ll ultimately call home, or how I’ll experience God’s creative hand in the new place, but I know there will be abundant ways in which to experience our creating, forgiving and sustaining God, until finally the owl calls my name.