Forgive us

Migrating Monarch butterfly enroute, St. John’s campus, MN


beloved niece

If I were alone in a desert
and feeling afraid,
I would want a child to be with me
for then my fear would disappear
and I would be made strong.

This is what life itself can do
because it is so noble, so full of pleasure
and so powerful.
But if I could not have a child with me
I would like to have at least a living animal
at my side to comfort me.

let those who bring about wonderful things
in their big, dark books
take an animal to help them.
The life within the animal
will give them strenth in turn.
For equality
gives strength, in all things
and at all times.
–Meister Eckhart, German mystic, philosopher (1260-1328c)(ed. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, EarthPrayers from Around the World (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991)253

A bee friend and mentor sent me a link yesterday…Reuters News reported seven kinds of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii are now facing extinction. Other bees with such charming names as the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and the Yellow Faced bee have been placed on the endangered list in the Midwest and Northeastern U.S. Another European study has found Drone’s bee sperm plunging by 39 percent from Neonicitinoids. Bees are not just dying off, they aren’t being born. The North American Monarch butterfly is in danger of becoming “quasi-extinct”, whatever that means.

I don’t even know what to do with this kind of news. It is coming so hard and fast. All the beautiful creatures that we’ve taken for granted, mostly ignored, left as an unobserved treasure trove, except by a handful of scientists. All these little ones are now leaving us. And our days and years fly by so fast that we don’t even take time to mourn such a tremendous loss. That is the greatest tragedy.

We are reportedly living in the 6th great extinction. For me, that calls for many seasons of lament. We and our children will be so impoverished by this loss, we cannot even begin to imagine. I call us to turn to our creaturely kin, whether plants, insects or animals and begin to see them. Remember them. Mourn their loss…

Black Bear skull, Northern Minnesota

As Wendy Johnson wrote, from Green Gulch Farm in N. California,[Earth Prayers from Around the World],

Plants [insects] and animals in the garden, we welcome you—we invite you in—we ask your forgiveness and your understanding. Listen as we invoke your names, as we also listen for you…

Take a moment, remember and breathe the name of even one of those fuzzy, winged, four footed, finned wild ones that delight you…

“In the end, we will conserve only that which we love. We will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”. (Baba Dioum, Senegalese forester, 1968)

It is a Meister Elkhart day. I leave you with a final quote from him…

Apprehend God in all things

For God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God

And is a book about God.

If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature—

Even a caterpillar—

I would never have to prepare a sermon.

So full of God is every creature

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