The Pelican and the Bittern

After exploring the world in – The Shape of the Nest – I became curious about the birds living there. Isaiah’s vision sketches a vivid word-picture, given to him by the Lord – The land shall not be quenched, from one generation to the next, it shall lie waste and non shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the bittern shall possess it and the owl and the raven shall live in it. 1] It is a picture of an outward manifestation of an inner reality in the dry lands of our souls.

In search of the pelican and bittern, I made a square cylinder and sketched a pelican in its habit of regurgitating fish on dry land, where other creatures are trying to snatch it away. I thought it was a literal picture of the words of God the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation – ‘because your works are lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth, because you say you are rich and in need of nothing, but you do not know that you are miserable, poor, blind and naked.’ 2]

I then sketched the in-need-of-nothing fish in the dry-lands and saw why it had turned so blue.

I then looked for the bittern and found its fish-like form in riverbeds, where its stripes made it blend in between the reeds, next to grassland rivers and streams.  Whenever under threat from other creatures, it adopts a camouflage posture by pointing its spearlike bill straight up towards heaven and standing still.


I now understand the way these birds arrange the nest. The pelican illustrates the separation of those enslaved to the way of the world from those who know that they had been purchased at a price and are no longer captive to the snare of the world – by Christ our Redeemer. Free we then stand in the Kingdom of Christ like the bittern with access to living water.


1. Isaiah 34 (KJV)

2. Rev 3:16 (KJV)




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