Phoenix rising, pelican descending; Sanctuary


What primeval dance do they share
In keeping the axis of the spirit world turning and humming its resurrection
Who notices a fire here?   a Tsunami there?  Icarus falling?
A death?
A series of deaths?  Earths great tally of grief.
Refrains of blood stained requiems
Drift to the earth, and dissolve into salt dreams upon the sea…..
In a parallel universe,
An ashen nest implodes and scatters
With the power of wind and wings born aloft, alone.

What Rises is not silent….
But is new voice.  Phoenix Voice.
Broken Wings and darkened feathers come to life
Pulling in unison again …Upward, outward, beyond the rising billows of smoke and memory.
What descends……?
A Spirit presence of the Ancients.
Pelicans on the wing with eyes on farther shores,
Not rising above
But dancing on the currents of what Is.
Sailing parallel to waves, dipping, touching the water ever so slightly
Just to send a silent message to the primordial seas
Just to sing to the Phoenix unbound
I am.
I always was.
I always will be.
Break against the shore if you need toBurn your nest if you must
But I neither break nor burn
My blood feeds this sweet communion of heaven and earth
And I am
The guardian
Of those descending……
And of those

— Clare Thompson Tager, Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, S.C.

NOTE: The significance of the Pelican and the Phoenix was transposed from pagan beliefs to the Christian faith, during the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England, had an alchemist as well as Anglican advisors, and wore pendants of the Pelican and Phoenix around her neck. As a bird of alchemy, the Pelican was depicted bloodying her breast to feed her children, and the Phoenix burning her nest to rise to the heavens. Christians adopted the Pelican as a symbol of sacrifice and the Phoenix, of transcendence.


Something about her body as she slid into one of the front pews
Gliding softly as though returning to the comfort of a dark womb.
The weathered gray stones of the old sanctuary echoed spirited silences before the first few notes
Of Bach’s mass in B Minor
Something about the way the early morning sun filtered in through the stained glass windows, and caressed her face …her eyes closed to receive the embrace
Ribbons of light in soft hues moving in shadows across  her face,
While her hands found each other and held on tight.

Walking toward the pine draped communion rail, I passed her deep in thought or prayer
Me walking the path, she, kneeling.
What ancient pilgrims we are, she and I
Seeking redemption in
Stones and sunlight.

— Clare Thompson Tager, Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, S.C.