A Friend to Lean On by Dr. Arthur Caliandro
Posted on March 2, 2008 by Arthur Caliandro

The pigeon seems to be everywhere in the city. I have yet to hear someone say how wonderful is the pigeon. People will talk about even a sparrow in better terms. Pigeons seems to be regarded as a necessary nuisance.

When I had a cottage on a Maine island my long walks would include time on a beautiful crescent-shaped beach. Often I would sit on a rock to take in the scene. I would see duck families swimming in the water, sea gulls drifting with the wind or gracefully landing in the sand. I would see swallows, watch sandpipers with fascination, and enjoy the sight of the beach grass along the edges of the beach.

One morning I saw a pigeon on the beach. I said, “What are you doing here? Go on! You’re disturbing the beauty of my morning experience.”

Then I saw something which changed my mind about pigeons. I live two blocks from the United Nations and often walk past that magnificent structure where the world comes together, and I would say a prayer for peace in the world. One day as I was walking on the sidewalk across from the UN, against the wall of a building I saw two pigeons. One was very sick. Its head was telescoped into its body and it was quivering. Next to that sick pigeon was a well pigeon standing watch in a loving vigil.

I stopped to look at the scene. Other passers-by also noticed the two birds. I thought how beautiful it is when somebody is troubled and has somebody who cares who will just be there, doing what they can to help. To me that was a remarkable symbol of what the UN is about.

Two weeks later, walking in the same area, I saw seven sick pigeons with a well pigeon standing by each one. It was an extraordinary sight. I haven’t seen anything like it since. The pigeons became my teachers.

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