Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Peacocks and Resurrection


Happy Easter, everyone! While on my recent retreat I learned that peacocks are traditionally connected with resurrection, because each year the males shed their brightly colored feathers and grow new ones in a “resurrection” of sorts. That makes them a particularly appropriate subject for meditation on this Resurrection Sunday.DSC_2000

I enjoyed coming across members of Holy Trinity Monastery’s flock of 6 peacocks and 3 peahens during my time there. Their calls, however, are not nearly as lovely, and occasionally their scream-like sounds would startle me out of a prayerful state…or a doze! I found them roosting just about anywhere during the day, including a long, narrow flower bed that fit a peacock’s tail perfectly!DSC_2086 flowerbed crop

Pondering peacocks, I find myself thinking about Jesus’ interactions with his followers after his resurrection. In many cases, they did not recognize Jesus when he first appeared to them—think about Mary Magdalene in the garden, and the three men on the road to Emmaus. Even once their eyes were “opened” to see that it was Jesus, there’s no record that he looked in any way special to them—in fact, he looked so much the same that he still had the nail marks on his hands. The peacocks also don’t seem to look any different once they’ve grown their new feathers.

Yet Jesus was radically transformed by his death and resurrection—in ways that the gospels are barely able to put into words. Resurrection is both amazing, and amazingly subtle. The transformation that took place within Jesus was not something his followers could see, or sense. Yet the fact of resurrection had the power to utterly transform his life, and it has the same power to transform our lives and our priorities—if we are willing to allow it.

What kinds of transformation, if any, have you experienced as a result of Jesus’ resurrection? Did it change your outward appearance in any way, or was the transformation a more subtle, inner one?

What in your life needs to experience the power of resurrection, today and in the days ahead?


Author: Shirin McArthur

I'm a spiritual guide, retreat leader, writer and editor.

2 thoughts on “Peacocks and Resurrection

  1. Shirin, hi! What exquisite photos of peacocks. I wanted to share a story:
    When I was very young and alone on a crowded bus in the inner city, and sharing a seat with a man who seemed to be of Eastern Indian descent, we ignored each other in the polite way people who have been crowded together in public will often do. But as we neared our stops, he piped up in a reedy voice, asking like a loving teacher: “Do you know why the peacock is the national bird of India?”
    I hid my deeply nail-bitten hands as if to fold back into my even more deeply shy shy self, sensing he had noticed them.
    I wished he hadn’t spoken.
    “No,” I managed to answer, almost afraid.
    “The peacock is the national bird of India because of its feet! Have you ever seen a peacock’s feet? They are very ugly. Those ugly feet remind us that all beautiful things are rooted in the earth.”
    I don’t answer, but y tightly closed hands open a little, and more than thirty years later, I am still biting my nails.
    And I still try to think of my bitten hands as loved by God, like the peacock’s feet.


    • Oh, Victoria, what a lovely story! We all have those aspects of ourselves that we view as “ugly,” but are truly as important a part of us as those which are considered “presentable,” as Paul talks about in I Corinthians 12. Thank you for sharing!


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