Swans - Mysterious and Beautiful

"Come apart and rest a while.” Mk. 6: 31. Twice yearly, swans come to Coolea to share life with us. Their serene, graceful presence offers a welcome relief from the incessant demands of daily living and the violent, chaotic situation in our world. As they glide along the Sullane River, their striking elegance epitomizes love, serenity and a contemplative presence. The peace they exude harmonizes the various elements of our fragmented life and fill us with energy and enthusiasm. Their majestic appearance invites us to pause, take time to assimilate their beauty and allow it to transform our way of looking at things. They give the impression that they serenely sail through life, but, like everyone and everything else, they experience the best and the worst of living. Their deep sense of community and understanding of leadership help them cope with what life throws up for them. In flight, the leading swans, who take the brunt of the wind, cycle air back to the birds that are following, giving them an uplift. They take turns in leading, thus economizing energy and making flying easier. Not only do they support each other in this way, but, when one gets wounded, another drops out of the v formation to stay with the ailing swan until it is able to fly, or to accompany it in death. In flight, they communicate with each other through a vibrant throbbing of the wings.  Every now  and then, they honk from behind to encourage those in front – a lesson for all leaders. We associate swans with Hans Christian Andersen's fable of the Ugly Duckling. The story illustrates how people can be berated and bullied for no reason or because they are thought to be misfits or different. The Ugly Duckling believed in his selfworth and turned into a beautiful swan. Today, many consumerist multinationals try to convince us of our low self esteem and offer produce that they say will enhance our good looks and self concept. But self esteem and beauty come from within. In recognizing this, and working from the inside out, we will not allow ourselves to be defined by riches, good looks, status, talents or what people think of us (1 Samuel 16:7). Swans are both a gift and a blessing. When they depart from Coolea, we feel a sense of loss and longing but their beauty and harmony linger on. "We each have something in life to do, let’s make it beautiful.”      Catherine O' Sullivan IJS, Coolea


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