From Galentine’s to God Squad, harness the power of love

Reverend Candace McKibben

I remember when I fell in love with sea turtles. When I was in my mid-30s, I first saw a mother sea turtle emerge from the waves under the cover of darkness. This otherwise sea creature crawled purposefully across the expanse of sand to the dunes, where it settled down, appearing to rest, before beginning the ritual of laying its clutch of a hundred eggs.

She methodically dug a hole with her hind flippers, flying sand. She rested. She began laying eggs in the hole, tears leaking from her eyes to keep them lubricated by the sand she was throwing.

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She then packed the nest with her strong rear flippers before turning partially towards the ocean and building a false mound to confuse predators who might find the eggs she was trying hard to conceal. She rested. And then with determination, she returned to the water’s edge, slipped into his familiar arms and set out again at sea. Part of the sanctity of this beautiful ritual was her silence.

An American white pelican floats on a pond in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

Hit by white pelicans

This week, I fell in love with white pelicans. And part of their remarkable beauty is the silence. Unlike their cousin the brown pelican, they only make sounds when they are juveniles and when mating. Rather, they glide elegantly and silently through the water looking like swans, which I first thought they might be when I saw them on Buck Lake last Sunday.

The American white pelican is extremely large, two to three times larger than the brown pelican that inhabits our coastal waters year-round. In flight they are staggering, with a wingspan of nine and a half feet, surpassed only by the American condor among North American birds.

Other differences include their mode of fishing, which is not dive bombing but rather dabbling, working cooperatively to herd fish in shallow areas near the shores of lakes and ponds, scooping them up in their beaks. in the form of a fillet before consumption.

They visit us from the mountains and plains of the northwestern United States and Canada where they breed, raise their young, and spend their summers and falls until winter frosts send them into travel south to California, Mexico or the Gulf Coast states. including Florida.

Although they arrive later in Florida each year as the weather is less frigid in their fall homes, they have graced us in the Big Bend area since late fall during this year’s migration. The wonderful St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, where I first saw white pelicans from a distance several years ago, suggests that although sightings are rare, white pelicans can be seen there in all seasons except summer. summer, where it would be rare.

The power to love

My newfound love for white pelicans grew from noticing them and being curious enough to learn more about them. As with sea turtles, I am intrigued by a deeper understanding of the white pelican’s life rituals. I feel a connection and an affinity with them.

I appreciate that they are shy birds, and it’s important to respect that by keeping a distance from them. I salute the fact that they are cooperative animals that not only work together, but also rely on the cormorants, with whom they have a symbiotic relationship, to help them in their vital fishing business.

If being observant and curious about an animal of interest generates love for that animal, I wonder if the same actions could work in human relationships? Perhaps by seeing each other and becoming curious enough to learn more about each other, we will deepen our understanding of each other as humans.

Perhaps by taking the time to learn what we can about each other and who we know we are, we will develop a greater appreciation and respect for each other.

Perhaps in this month when we celebrate the power of love on Valentine’s Day, we can move in the direction of love for all of creation, including each other.

Galentine Brunch, God Squad Lunch

There are so many ways to love others in Tallahassee. JGalentine’s Second Annual Virtual Brunch on February 12 (see raises awareness of the basic need girls and women have for menstrual hygiene products. You can donate to provide period products through Second Harvest to Period Poverty | Second Big Bend Harvest (

On February 25, from noon to 1 p.m., you could attend the Village Square-sponsored “God Squad” Community Conversation at Good Samaritan United Methodist Church. The discussion will focus on how to develop empathy for each other. See, God Squad: Empathy in the Age of Schadenfreude for tickets.

February 28, 6-7 p.m., either in person at the RA Gray Building or virtually (Register at Zoom), you might attend a discussion of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Beloved,” and its connection to the lived experiences of Black Floridians before and after emancipation. This Black History Month sponsored event encourages loving others.

Or maybe you can start in your own circle of family and/or friends. What can you notice in someone around you and ask for clarification as you let your curiosity lead you to deeper understanding and gratitude towards them?

I pray that we can all find ways to practice love in this month when our most famous feast of love reminds us of its power.

Reverend Candace McKibben

Reverend Candace McKibben is an ordained minister and pastor of Tallahassee Fellowship.

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