Embracing the Pelican

A few nights ago I had the following dream:

I'm standing at the edge of a marsh or wetland. I see a bald eagle flying toward me. It lands in the water, wings out. It comes right toward me. Then it changes into a golden eagle with a strange, long, duck-like bill. It has red-brown eyes that hold sadness. It walks right up to me. I back away slightly and so does the bird. We hesitate. But I realize it wants me to pet it. I begin petting its head and it turns into a pelican. Soon it is right up against my body and it is the same size as me. It rests its head on my shoulder. I feel so much love for the pelican and I want to protect it. As I pet it, its feathers dry off and become incredibly soft. As I pet the pelican, I talk to it, trying to soothe it.

My heart is absolutely breaking at the situation in the Gulf. So many animals are dying: pelicans, sea turtles, dolphins, marlin, shrimp...the list is enormous. The tragic results of our greed and over-consumption are nearly more than I can bear. I wish I were able to save every single bird languishing in the oily Gulf waters.

The collapse of the Deepwater Horizon platform came just 10 days before a major collapse in my own life. At the end of April, my husband and I decided to divorce. I felt everything crash in around me. We were already losing our physical home to foreclosure, and now we are losing our metaphorical home as well. I have to rebuild everything from scratch.

Although my husband and I will remain good friends and the separation has been as amiable as possible, the grief runs deeper than I could ever imagine. As a result of my personal upheaval, I have had a limited capacity to work with the grief I feel over the death in the Gulf of Mexico.

But this dream provided a doorway into that grief. As my mentor Karen Jaenke said when we worked this dream, if I can inhabit my personal grief then I can better hold the collective grief over the oil spill. I am creating a bridge to the collective grief in the dream when I hold the pelican despite my own suffering and attempt to relieve its suffering. We meet halfway, each coming from our own tragedy, in order to heal each other. As I soothed the pelican, I also soothed myself and it soothed me.

I feel stronger now. It's been more than a month since Lance and I made the decision to split. With each day that passes I feel more capable of holding the Gulf tragedy in tandem with my own crises. The next step is to transform this grief into healing, a step I imagine will take many, many months.

Both images courtesy of the International Bird Rescue Research Center



d page said...

This is a beautiful dream, showing how open your heart is... even with all the heart ache. I pray we can endure the collective heartbreak over what has been done to the sentient beings that live in the Gulf. I pray for inner peace for you.

Katrina said...

Thank you Debra.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

A wonderful dream. Your heart is incredibly open, just as Debra says. Pamper yourself. Take a look at the prayer that Masaru Emoto offers for the gulf: http://ofscarabs.blogspot.com/2010/06/masaru-emotos-prayer-for-gulf.html
Perhaps this prayer fits personal grief as well.

Katrina said...

Thanks for sharing that prayer, Trish and Rob, and for your words as well.

agirlandaboy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the grief you're experiencing, but it's comforting to know that you're finding your peace in it in whatever ways you can. Be well, friend.