The 365 Commitment

Pelican of the Wilderness

The pelican has been around for a long time, probably over 30 Million years. The ancient pelicans resemble the modern pelicans for the most part. So the bird had already evolved a beak with a large sack that would allow it to scoop up a bunch of fish and drain the water out and eat what remains. Pelicans are all over the world and as a consequence have worked their way into the mythology and folklore of the entire human race.

The pelican is a powerful symbol for many reasons. I do not think I have the time to go through them all, but if you look carefully you will find the bird everywhere in stories, art, and symbolism. Perhaps the most significant is the Piety of the Pelican, in which it is believed that a mother Pelican will actually stab herself in the chest in order to feed her young precious drops of blood when she cannot find food. This behavior became a symbol of Christ and has been used repeatedly throughout the ages.

Of course this is just myth. In reality the Mother Pelican does actually smack its beak against her chest in order to get the last remaining amount of food out of the pouch in her beak. It maybe assumed she is bleeding because often times the pouch will appear bright red as it lays against her chest.  Regardless it makes a good story, and you will often see a mother pelican feeding her young with tears of blood in medieval symbolism.

I took my boat out along the coast of San Diego, near the Mexican border over the weekend. Spent some time anchored near a break where the water was less affected by the waves. Upon my return later in the day, the coast was buried in dense fog. As I strained to see where I was going, I looked into the curtain of grayness hoping to see something that gave me a clue as to where I was at.

At the moment where a bit of concern started to set in, I heard the sudden wail of a fog horn and at the same time a large white bird came sailing near me with her wings full stretched out. A pelican startled by the fog horn caught flight and headed toward the direction of the coast. I followed her and soon enough came across another vessel heading inland. This gave me a reprieve from the concern regarding hitting a submerged shoal or outcropping of rocks and took that moment to reflect.

“I am like pelican in the wildness,” the psalmist wrote. The bird now sat on the stump of an old pier with her bill sagging down and resting on her breast. She looked sad, lonely even. She matched my melancholy mood with her seemingly despondent demeanor. She might later take a scoop of fish and head inland into one of the wide open lands and there feast alone in the open expanse.

I past by, my boat slowly gliding through the water. The only sound the hum of the engines and a small clicking noise of a slight wind blowing a strap that was dangling from my port side window. I looked on as the fog enveloped the white bird, sitting lonely on that stump. I reflected on how we find solace in nature’s symbolism. How clues and answers to riddles will often take shape in the world around us. So it was there that the pelican spoke to me and in a weird way I found comfort as the fog lifted and I found myself safe within the harbor once again.

Guy Reams

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nathan hall
nathan hall
2 years ago

And buying a new radar/ chart plotter

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