As I walked past this giant, dog-sized bird, it's crazy googly eye followed me, and it seemed to give me a subtle, drunken smirk. Pelicans are goofy looking critters up-close. They tuck their enormous beaks down into their feathers, looking a little bit like a fat old man, resting his double chin in his chest to take a snooze.
I'm definitely not a fan of birds in general. They are dirty & gross, and when they flutter around me I get all nervous & jittery inside. Seagulls and pigeons are the worst-- filthy scavengers that are bold enough to walk right up to me & take my food. Pelicans always seemed like super-sized seagulls to me, and I've held a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) fear of them.
But yesterday morning, I took a quiet walk along the beach in Oceanside, and something about those pelicans changed my opinion of them.
I had never noticed before but as they scan for fish, they glide along the tops of breaking waves, tracing the crest with one of their wings and gliding along it until it crumbles. It is elegant & graceful, and almost even playful-- like a little girl running her fingers along the top of a fence as she walks by.
It is simply what they were made for, and as I watched them follow the waves over and over, I couldn't help but acknowledge the goodness of a Creator. What a beautiful thing it is to see something doing exactly what it was created to do. And how comical and out of place is can be to see that same creature in a different context-- like my pelican friend that watched me from the pier with a smile on his face.
It occurred to me that every single morning, those pelicans trace the waves, without me watching. I bustle about my day, my mind orbiting the million and one things I need to get done, and this perfect, tranquil scene happens everyday, with or without me. As I walked along the beach, I felt perfectly at peace, content, safe.
A memory popped into my head from several weeks back. I had been exhausted, stressed out, and felt empty & even a little depressed. I gave a seminar to a room exploding with students about justice, compassion & generosity, and as I spoke, I suddenly felt alive. A friend told me later that it just seemed like it was something I was created to do, and as funny as it sounded, it felt like she was right.
I can be awkward, clumsy and simply fail at times. I don't always feel at home in my own skin, and despite my efforts, there are some things I will just never be good at. But it gives me a peace to watch something as goofy & comical as a pelican skim across the crest of a wave, knowing there is a certain mysterious order and purpose to the way we each operate, the way we were each created.