Daniel and the Pelican
As I drove home from work one afternoon, the cars ahead of me were swerving to miss something not often found in the middle of a six lane highway; a great big pelican.
After an 18 wheel truck nearly ran him over, it was clear the pelican wasn’t planning to move any time soon. And if he didn’t, the remainder of his life could be clocked with an egg timer.
I parked my car, and slowly approached him. The bird wasn’t the least bit afraid of me, but the drivers who honked their horns and yelled at us as they sped by didn’t impress him either.
Stomping my feet, I waved my arms and shouted to get him into the lake next to the road; all the while trying to direct traffic.
“C’mon beat it Big Guy before you get hurt!”
After a brief pause, he cooperatively waddled to the curb and slid down to the water’s edge.
Problem solved. Or so I thought.
The minute I walked away he was back on the road, resulting in another round of honking, squealing tires and smoking brakes.
So I tried again.
“Shoo for crying out loud!!!!
The bird blinked; first one eye, then the other and with a little sigh placated me by returning to the lake. Of course when I started for my car it was instant replay.
After two more unsuccessful attempts, I was at my wits end. Cell phones were practically non-existent back then, and the nearest pay phone was about a mile away. I wasn’t about to abandon the hapless creature and run for help. He probably wouldn’t be alive when I returned.
So there we stood; on the curb, like a couple of folks waiting at a bus stop. While he nonchalantly preened his feathers, I frantically prayed for a miracle.
Suddenly a shiny red pick up truck pulled up, and a man hopped out.
“Would you like a hand?”
I’m seldom at a loss for words, but one look at the very tall newcomer rendered me tongue-tied and unable to do anything but nod.
He was the most striking man I’d ever seen; smoky black hair, muscular, with tanned skin and a tender smile flanked by dimples deep enough to drill for oil. His eyes were hypnotic; crystal clear and Caribbean blue. He was almost too beautiful to be real.
The embroidered name on his denim work shirt said “Daniel.”
“I’m on my way out to the Seabird Sanctuary, and I’d be glad to take him with me. I have a big cage in the back of my truck” the man offered.
Oh my goodness.
“Do you volunteer at the Sanctuary?” I croaked, struggling to regain my powers of speech.
“Yes, every now and then.”
In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect solution to my dilemma. The bird was going to be saved by a knowledgeable expert with movie star looks, who happened to have a pelican sized cage with him and was on his way to the Seabird Sanctuary.
As I watched Daniel prepare for his passenger, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from somewhere.
“Have we ever met before?” I asked.
“No I don’t think so” was his reply, smiling again with warmth that would melt glaciers.
I held my breath as the man crept toward the pelican. Their eyes met, and the bird meekly allowed Daniel to carefully drape a towel over his face and place him in the cage. There was no struggle, no flapping wings and not one peep of protest; just calm.
“YES!” I shrieked with excitement when the door was latched. What had seemed a no-win situation was no longer hopeless. The pelican was finally safe.
Before they drove away, I thanked my fellow rescuer for his help.
“It was my pleasure Michelle.”
And he was gone.
Wait a minute. How did he know my name? We didn’t introduce ourselves. I only knew his name because of his shirt.
Later when I called the Sanctuary to check on the pelican, I asked if I might speak with Daniel.
No one had ever heard of him.
I was beginning to think my mind was playing tricks on me.
As we discussed my baffling experience over dinner, our little girl Julie was convinced that she knew Daniel’s true identity.
“Mommy, I’ll bet he’s your angel. That’s why you know him” she insisted.
“But Daniel didn’t have wings honey” I smiled, passing the green beans to my husband.
“A lot of angels don’t have wings Mommy.”
“How do you know this?”
“I see them sometimes. They’re just people like you, me and Daddy.”
I put down my fork and gave her my full attention.
”Julie, why do you think the people you see are angels?” I asked.
“Because God is in their faces.”
After dishes were washed and bedtime prayers were said, it was time to sort through the confusion whirling through my head.
I read somewhere that young children are able to see what adults can’t because their innocence hasn’t yet been tainted by the skepticism of a grownup world. It must be true. My baby daughter seemed to have the inside track into something her incredulous mother could barely comprehend.
Moreover what she said made sense.
I prayed for a miracle and Daniel suddenly appeared. He not only knew how to capture a pelican, but had a big cage in his truck and was on his way to place where the bird could get better.
And the glow radiating from Daniel’s beautiful eyes was pure and loving; like the adoration of a father for his child. As Julie said, God was in his face.
If Daniel was my angel it would explain his familiarity.
My spirit might know him even if I didn’t recognize him in the flesh. And he’d know my name without being told.
Then I recalled struggling to hold back traffic while trying to get the pelican off of the road. Perhaps the bird wasn’t the only one in imminent danger. I was so preoccupied that it didn’t occur to me that I was in danger of losing my own life while trying to save his.
It was a precious and humbling revelation; to be so cherished by God that He would send one of the Heavenly host to protect me. I’d heard that angels watch over us, but I was handed tangible evidence of their existence.
What an amazing gift.
Michelle Close Mills ©