Listen to the Mourning Dove

Most mornings, I awake to the sound of mourning doves on my deck rail. They come around several times a day. Their mournful cooing sound is soothing and relaxing to me. But I have to admit that sometimes I’ve thought they are not a very smart bird. And they look a bit funny. The head never seems to be the right size for the body. However, they give me pleasure in watching them, hearing them, as well as listening to my cat chirp back at them because the doves are “invading her space.”

Do you know the symbolism of the dove? Although usually attributed to the white doves we see as symbols of love at weddings and the Holy Spirit in spiritual depictions, the mourning dove stands for new beginnings and high expectations, deliverance. In fact, the states of Michigan and Wisconsin regard the mourning dove as the official state symbol of peace! These birds represent peace of the most profound kind and are said to soothe and quiet our worried and troubled thoughts, enabling us to find renewal in the silence of the mind.

Today Jesus tells the disciples that he is going; their hearts will be filled with grief. But one is coming, the Advocate, the Comforter, who will show them truth and righteousness. The prince, ruler of the world (Satan) has been condemned. We must believe, and we must listen to the Spirit to know the truth. The Gospel refrain says it all: “I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; and he will guide you to all truth.”

You will be hearing a lot in the next few weeks, leading up to Pentecost, about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. But I would like you to know this – without mindful peace, silence of the heart, and trust in the Lord and the Spirit, we cannot begin to hear the truth as Jesus wants us to. It takes effort to quiet oneself to hear, as much as we must keep our mouths shut and minds open to listen to what someone else is saying to us. It’s not always easy, as our minds tend to begin to formulate answers or arguments before the other stops speaking. We miss a lot.

I find my self-control, whenever I can, when I hear the mourning doves coo. For me, they are a tangible sign of the Spirit, and their sound calms me so that I can hear what the Spirit is saying. I need to know the truth, even when I don’t want to know the truth. Such is the dilemma of the human heart.

The next time you hear a mourning dove, stop for a bit and remember what it represents for you: new beginnings and great expectations; deliverance, comfort, deep peace, truth and a quiet heart.

God Bless.

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Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at