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Assistant Minister

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       Every year I get excited when the pelicans show up at the university lakes (so excited that I wrote about it last month). I like it because it’s a reminder of the cyclical nature of life, because it’s a piece of nature in the center of the city, and because pelicans are an icon of Louisiana culture.

       Every day, it seems, they swim in a large amorphous blob. Their heads bob in and out of the water eating fish. There must be hundreds. The lake is not that big, and I can’t imagine that there are any fish left when the blob migrates again.

      I know I’m not alone in my fascination. The pelicans have their groupies. It’s rare to see them without one or two paparazzi snapping a picture from the shore.

      Then I started thinking about perspective. From our eye level, it’s a glorious show of nature and culture. What does it look like under the water? What does my piece of culture and nature look like to the fish. It must be devastating. I thought about my childhood dog and how traumatized she was after that one fateful 4th of July when she got too close to the back door. I couldn’t get her out from under the bed the entire night.

      As we ring in a new year, as we say goodbye to what by many accounts was a terrible, terrible year, I’m curious what the world looks like if I change my perspective.

      Are we the pelicans? Are we the fish? Are we the water? I don’t have the answer. I’m still trying to craft the story of 2016 – why was there a flood, and a terrorist attack? Why did the police militarize and terrorize the same citizens they are sworn to protect? Will we finally see justice in Baton Rouge? What does it mean that America elected a man who openly accepted and espoused so many racially divisive and dangerous ideologies?

      I don’t have the answer. When I’m stuck without an answer, or when I’m looking to craft the story of disenchantment and sadness, I find that shifting perspective can help. Is there a different way that I can see 2016? Is there a different way I can see 2017? Is there a more just, more compassionate story I can tell?