looking up and being reminded


(a pigeon rests on a statue placed above the ridge of the Assumption chapel at the corner
of Garancière street and Palatine street, behind the Saint-Sulpice church. / Julie Cook / 2018)

Back in the summer, back when the beach was consuming so many of our minds,
I offered a post featuring some shots I’d taken of some pelicans I’d seen while enjoying
our summer trip to the panhandle of Florida.

Nothing says beach and ocean like seeing a brown pelican sitting on an old weathered pier or that
of a formation of these gangly birds gliding effortlessly just above the surf…

Days such as today…days that are damp, windy, overcast and grey quickly push our thoughts
to warmer sunnier days. This as we are just entering into our darker colder days of the year.

I noted in that previous post how much, for reasons unknown, that I love pelicans…
They are my favorite birds oddly enough.

Birds that eat whole fish and hold them in their gullets for later…
my husband calls them nasty birds while I call them resourceful.

My previous post touched on the seemingly odd relationship pelicans have had in Christian lore
and tradition.

I did a little research and offered a bit of teaching from the information that I had gleaned…
The premise was that during times of famine, mother pelicans have been known to pluck their own
breasts until they bled in order to offer their own blood to their hungry babies…
offering life-giving sustenance.

A direct reference to Christ who offers His own blood for our spiritual hunger and
our own salvation.

So recently when visiting Paris, we were staying at a small hotel just outside of
the Luxembourg Gardens.


(just a tiny area of the Luxembourg Gardens with a shot of the Senate building behind/
Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

This boutique hotel sits in the shadow of the second largest church in Paris,
Eglise Saint-Sulpice.


(Eglise Saint-Sulpice / Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

I happen to really love this church as it is not Notre Dame.


(Notre Dame / Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

It is not consumed by crowds and tourists.

It was the anchor to the neighborhood my aunt and I called home for a couple of
days about 8 years ago and the same anchor to the same neighborhood my husband and I called
home more recently….the Germain-des-Prés, Odéon of the 6th arrondissement.

Entering this historic building is definitly otherworldly.

It’s like walking into an ancient, silent and dark crevasse…as well as
stepping back into a far removed time…think pre-Revolution and pre-Bonaparte.
Yet the Revolution did hinder the finishing of the facade.

The original church was constructed in the 13th century but the building we see
today dates to the early 1600’s—finally being completed in the late 18th century.
Yet it suffered, as did so many in Paris, during the Revolution.

There are some famous paintings by Eugene Delacroix…

Along with some masterful statues and some simple but lovely stain glass…

Along with the scars from living through the days of a revolution down to
simple neglect and decay…

Add of course the massive and impressive organ

And yet there is reverence…
There is a deep and mystical yearning by many who come here…
those who come curious or those who come seeking.

They come to sit,
to pray,
to sleep,
to hide,
to rest,
to wander,
to wonder…

And so it was when I was actually outside on a side street…
walking alongside the perimeter of this massive hulking building that I looked up
and actually saw it…
the mother pelican sitting atop a spire of a side chapel.

The same imagery that came to mind back in July…and here it was again in September.
Found not at the beach and not in some warm tropical locale but rather in the midst
of a massively large city whose people are often too busy to glance upward albeit toward
their rather famous tower…

And yet here it was…as always, a powerful reminder of sacrifice.
Life, death, redemption, and salvation…


(all photos by Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

Remember to always stop long enough to look up…

And may we now offer our prayers for our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh
as well for all the first responders…

Lord have mercy…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/pelicans/

pelicans

O loving Pelican!
O Jesu Lord!
Unclean I am but cleanse me in Thy Blood;
Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
Can purge the entire world from all its guilt.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the hymn, Adoro Te Devote


(a brown pelican bobs with the surf of the sea / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

More often than not, while sitting idly outside…
be it either early in the morning or even late in the evening, shrouded in silence but for the
chirping of a passing bird, my husband will often muse that if he could be anything other than a
human being, he’d like to be a bald eagle.

While I immediately counter that I’d like to be a pelican.

“A PELICAN?!”

He practically screams with incredulous disgust.

“Those are nasty birds!
They sit around with dead rotting fish in their gullets”

“Maybe so, but how resourceful is that to keep supper and the supper for their children
always ready and waiting?”

I’ll cheekily counter.

Pelicans and humans have often had a contentious relationship as fishermen have perceived
these gregarious birds as rivals to their livelihood.
But the truth is that pelicans don’t actually compete for a fisherman’s catch…
they’re just a bit more opportunist than adversary.

Yet for over a hundred years or so they have been culled and their eggs destroyed–
to such numbers that several species have become dangerously endangered.

And yet, to me, these awkwardly shaped birds are synonymous with all things of the ocean.
Despite making no beautiful song of their own other than the odd
clacking of their bill or ballooning of their throat pouch, they are my troubadours of the sea.

I always know when I’m finally getting close to the longed-for destination of the ocean
when I spy my gangly looking friends perched sublimely on a pier’s dock or gliding
in regimental formation along the currents of the wind.

But I was surprised to learn the Christian history behind my beachy feathered friends.
It seems that in Medieval times, pelicans were actually symbolic of Christ.
It was believed that during times of famine and shortages of food,
a mother pelican would actually peck open her breast offering her own blood to her
young brood in an attempt to help sustain them when hungry.

A selfless act which reflects the same selflessness of Christ’s offering his own life’s blood
for our own survival.

St Thomas Aquinas, in 1264, wrote a hymn noting the similarity… “Adoro te devote”
And so it appears that my desire of opting to choose a pelican as my alter ego,
my choice appears to be much deeper then I could have ever imagined…

0 loving Pelican! 0 Jesu Lord!
In Holy Communion, Our Lord does not offer us only spiri­tual nourishment,
but gives himself to us as Food.
The Ancients thought that when the chicks of a pelican died,
the pelican opened his breast and with his blood fed his dead young,
in this way bringing them back to life.
Christ with His own Blood gives us eternal life.
When we receive Holy Communion with the right dispositions,
it rouses in our soul fervent acts of love, transforms us, and identifies us with Christ.
The Master comes to each one of His disciples with His love,
which is at one and the same time effective, creative and redemptive.
He presents him­self to us as the Savior of our lives, offering us His friend­ship.
This Sacrament is the food of· all intimacy with Christ, for which there is no substitute.

Catholic Exchange

faith in the impossible

“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith,
for to have faith is to have wings.”

J.M. Barrie

DSCN3326

“He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God;
but he who really thinks has to believe in God.”

Isaac Newton

DSCN3320

DSCN3325
(brown pelicans / Santa Rosa Beach, Julie Cook / 2016)

cumbersome
awkward
ill proportioned
too heavy…

yet…

they fly
in unison
in sync
as one

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:4