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Mary ‘Vonnie’ Galligher is a retired nurse whose own accident ended up rekindling her love of art, creative writing and painting. Courtesy photo
Columns Soul on Fire

Soul on Fire: ‘The Bird Bath’ a timely reminder of power of forgiveness

Can a book change the world? Can an illustrated children’s book about a dog and a bird spark kindness toward those who have done us wrong, or gave us the perception of wrongdoing?

Is this 32-page book demonstrating acceptance and forgiveness one that can inspire a return to love in humanity’s hearts?

That is the hope of Mary “Vonnie” Galligher, a longtime Encinitas local.

Vonnie was a vibrant and active participant in life. For over 20 years, she was a nurse, helping others overcome affliction and live their best lives after injury or illness. This is a skill that came in handy when faced with her own debilitating injury three years ago.

After a severe car accident left her needing spinal rehabilitation, Vonnie came into close daily contact with an unexpected therapist, a dog named Buddy. Is it a coincidence that “dog” is “god” spelled backward?

Suffering from a situation that threw her off her axis and crushed bones as well as any dreams she had for a normal life, it would be understandable to have resentment toward the teenager who plowed into the stopped car she was in that fateful night.

The story of “The Bird Bath,” starring Buddy the mutt turned therapy dog and Bertie the Bluebird, came to Vonnie in her dreams one night.

In the morning, the storyline and illustrations just flew out of her as if by magic. She credits her close walk with Jesus, who she says has been with her through the time in dark despair while coming to grips with a life interrupted.

It is as though those dark times prepared her for her current journey. This sudden shift caused her to recalibrate her life and become open to new possibilities — possibilities that have ignited a passion in her soul for writing and illustrating children’s books with profound messages in an easy-to-read format.

There are lessons in perception, understanding, love, fellowship, and forgiveness as simple as the book may look at first glance.

There are even lessons in pronunciation with the vocabulary words in the names of the main characters.

The ability to take adversity and turn it into a powerful blessing is one of the spiritual laws of success — and is also demonstrated in the book, “The Bird Bath.”

Vonnie reflects this philosophy in her life and work.

Written and produced here in Encinitas, the book can be found wherever books are sold and online.

It’s not a small thing to take a dream and realize it into manifestation. Pushing herself beyond seemingly impossible physical odds, she could have polished up her resentment over the accident that changed her life and her plans. Instead, she found her passion. Because of her faith, “The Bird Bath” was born from that surrender and through that forgiveness.

Right now, we are living in a world that is very unforgiving. I just lost another friend over mask-wearing and vaccines.

We become adversaries, unable to agree to disagree with things someone else does inadvertently or without intent to harm. We are at war with each other in our homes, grocery stores, the country, and the world — it’s getting out of hand.

Maybe we all need to take a moment and read “The Bird Bath” and take things down to an elementary level to remember that we are all flawed and do dumb things sometimes — intentionally or unintentionally. And we all deserve forgiveness.

How can we possibly have peace in the world if we can’t forgive a car accident, a disagreement over how to handle a pandemic or a bird in your water bowl?

Children are our future, and we need to remember the simplicity of life when we were children to get along with each other better.

Children already have love and forgiveness instilled in them naturally. So do dogs. We can learn a lot from observing them.

The story ends with this Bible quote. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. Something to meditate on.

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