It’s a rather complicated situation to understand. My best buddy, Meredith, had a half-sister who was my first cousin, and we were all three extremely close. We went to Gospel concerts together, walks on trails, took pictures sight-seeing and talked for hours in his comfortable living room in the small village where we were raised — and we all three had the same perception of cardinals.

In fact, on July 5, 2008, we had planned to go to a major concert, along with Joyce, in Bluffton, Indiana. He and I had a wonderful visit the evening before; following my visit with him, we went to Amishville to visit Norma and her family in a camping excursion.

It was one of the devastating moments of my life at noon the next day when I received a call from Norma shortly after noon informing me that she had just “found” Meredith. Sometime during the night, he had suddenly “passed.”

Norma and I have/had both sensed a huge gap since that fateful day eight years ago. A couple of years ago, Norma was found to have cancer and she waged the battle of her life. Finally, a few weeks ago, she “passed” and as I had done for my buddy, I was asked to participate in her memorial service and give tribute to this woman who had been more like a sister and best friend to me. “The family trio,” as Meredith always referred to us, would have to wait to Heaven to be joined.

Now, it is back to my original title for this column. The day after Norma’s memorial service, I was walking in my beloved Lob when an unbelievable sight unfolded in front of me. Out of nowhere, eight cardinals appeared and clustered in the tree right beside me. I said eight cardinals — it had been eight years from the time that Meredith passed until the Norma’s memorial service. I was overcome but not overly shocked.

Every day, eagles appear, beautiful formations occur in floral arrangements, cardinals sing and something new to touch my soul that day occurs for whatever reason. Less than an hour ago, I was walking near the base of a beautiful waterfall and there appeared a huge empty shell. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was intriguing.

When I look at the deep blue skies, I realize I am looking out at space and beyond and though I see “nothing but blue,” I realize that I am seeing “everything” straight to the throne of God Himself.

And it’s that intrigue that calls me to the wild, to the trails, to nature and to the still small voice that whispers from the flowers, the grasses, the creatures, the flocks and the golden sunlight flowing over my shoulder. It is there where the answers lie, the magic occurs and Heaven and earth touch my heart.

Eight cardinals lift me to hope; an eagle reminds me that God says an eagle in flight is one of His eight favorite sights and a field full of New England purple asters reminds me of divine sacredness and the artistic ability of the creator.

And in every human around me, there is diversity, creativity, and a mystical link between the surprises of nature and the surprises of every human heart.