Seeds of the Word - The day I saw a pelican, a palm tree and a mirror

Discovering the presence of God in our vacation

beach scene
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By Mauricio I. Pérez

Every time I travel in summer with my family, I have made a custom to remind myself of these words from the Book of Wisdom: “From the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.” (Wisdom 13:5) God, who blesses us with work, blesses us as well with time to rest. Discovering his presence in every moment along our vacation makes of our summer not only a time to rest, but also an occasion to praise the Lord.

Spending our summer break in Mexico at a beachside hotel, I floated on my back in the fresh waters of the swimming pool. My kids frolicked in the children’s pool while my wife read a magazine at the poolside. The water took me under a palm tree and kept me under its shadow for a while. Gazing upon its tall trunk and big leaves I recalled how the people of God, because of the longevity of this plant, used the palm tree to symbolize God’s eternity. This is why on Palm Sunday we process waving leaves of a palm tree, praising our eternal King as he enters Jerusalem.

The water pulled me from under the palm tree and took me somewhere else in the pool. I saw then a pelican soaring through the sky. It caught my attention because it was the very first time I saw a pelican. I watched closely and noticed its beak looked like a sack from which a still alive fish was frantically trying to leap out. I recalled then that the church has regarded the pelican as a symbol of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is because pelicans, when they couldn’t find food, were thought to draw blood from their chests with their beak to feed their chicks, so they wouldn’t die. This reminds us about Christ, who let himself be nailed to a cross so his blood can become for us a drink of eternal life.

These thoughts led me to recall that phrase from the Book of Wisdom. From the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen. Sure enough, if we pay attention we can discover, through his creation, the presence of God in our life.

The following Sunday, still traveling, we went to Mass and together gave thanks to the Lord for our summer trip and the wonderful moments we had shared. Kneeling before the altar, I noticed that the table cloth had a pelican embroidered in its center. And looking up at the tabernacle, I found there was a mirror on one side and a palm tree on the other! Exactly the symbols I had found in nature a couple of days before were present in this church, with the addition of a mirror, a symbol of Mary. In the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we invoke Our Lady as “mirror of justice,” for she immaculately reflects the absolute fulfillment of the law of God.

This summer, I invite you to watch creation attentively. You will find behind it God’s hand blessing you, and will feel impelled to give him thanks and praise him. If you travel, don’t forget to go to Mass and take this chance to visit the church, trying to find inside something you have never seen before. Look for a pelican, a palm tree and a mirror. If you find them, share their meaning with your family and praise the Lord together.

Be passionate about our faith!

Mauricio I. Perez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is http://www.seminans.org/.

This is the English translation of the “Semillas de la Palabra” column that appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of NORTHWEST CATHOLIC.

Mauricio I. Pérez

Mauricio I. Pérez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is www.seminans.org.

Website: www.seminans.org