Down by the lake the wide expanse of water echoes the wonderment of God’s heavenly creation, shimmering clouds, glimmering sporadically on a silver/white spangled calm. You take a moment to reflect on your life, sit down on the soft, spring grass and to gaze out across its magical surface. The gentle waft of allium and wild prairie roses plays enticingly on your senses and the sun eagerly warms your soul to contentment. As you rest, you noticed something in the distance, something white, gliding across the water, almost like a ghostly apparition, ripples rising slightly before dancing away in a series of uneven rings.
What you are looking at is a bird that exemplifies the sacrificial love of a parent for its offspring. Early mankind mistook the pelican’s habit of pushing its huge bill down when extracting food for its young, believing that in times of hardship the pelican would pierce its own breast to feed its young with its own blood. In as much as it was also believed the pelican never ate more than it needed in order to survive, it has become symbolic of those who strive for spiritual purification.
Indeed, the pelican has been symbolic within Christian art as well, the comparison being the personal sacrifice to feeds its young to Jesus offering himself up on the cross in atonement for our sins.
When I was in Cyprus back in 1994, I came across pelicans for the very first time. I was at Nissi Beach, in Ayia Napa. The sun was bold upright in a pale blue sky and the golden sands were overrun with suntanned bodies and gaudy beach towels. Pelicans would freely bob about on the waves with little fear of lust-filled teenagers and gawking tourists. I remember coming back to Sweden with a head full of thoughts and strangely enough, although I saw many things on that wonderful, sun toasted island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, it was the splendor of the pelican that I remembered so well.
So you can imagine my surprise when I finally made it to America, to Minnesota, Litchfield…to Lake Ripley…and pelicans. Rosie took me there, quite rightly thinking it would make for a good day out. The weather was marvelous and she had packed a little picnic. We strolled along the water’s edge, the sun playfully reflecting the magnificence of that wonderful place when all of a sudden, that almost ghostly apparition slipped in from nowhere. It was the most amazing sight. I had waited eighteen years to see another pelican and not for one moment did I think I would see one in Minnesota.
I wasn’t the only one who was happily surprised though. Rosie was too. She told me she had never, up until that day, seen a pelican on Lake Ripley. We saw a great many pelicans after that, not only on Lake Ripley, but on many lakes with the great state of Minnesota.
I too now find something symbolic with the pelican. For me, it symbolizes the friendship between two pen pals, who waited sixteen years to meet. It also symbolizes the friendships I formed while in your great State. In just over a month I will be there again, back in America, back in Minnesota, back in Litchfield…at Lake Ripley…and hopefully, pelicans.