“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species -- man -- acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world. ” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
One thing that I don't really talk about on my blog (but that might change...) is my love for the natural world. I have loved nature for as long as I can remember. When I was in the 5th grade, I knew, just knew that there was not a god. At least not a god in the traditional sense of the word. No man up in the sky deciding my fate, no world created in 7 days, and that the bible was just a book of fairy tales. I don't remember when I told my parents I didn't believe in a god. Maybe I never did. Maybe they just knew.
But as I explored my own internal feelings about religion, and went away to college (Eckerd College) my explorations went deeper and I discovered that I what I believed in actually had a name: Pantheism. At its core Pantheists do not propose belief in a deity; rather, they hold Nature itself as a creative presence. Pantheism reconciles science and religion through ecology leading to strong environmental awareness. I studied for many years earning advanced degrees in Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Marine Biology as well as Library and Information Science. And the more I studied the more I connected with the natural world around me.
I worked for years as an Environmental Scientist for private engineering firms and for our state government (SWFWMD). I helped to design the world renowned educational programs at Mote Marine Aquarium and conducted field work on shark fisheries in Isla Holbox, Mexico. And more. So much more. I can name nearly every wetland plant in the Florida swamp by genus and species. I can identify frogs based on their call. I know what swims beneath me when I'm out in the Gulf of Mexico and I do everything in my power to try to preserve it.
Nature is my church and that of my family. My children have never been to a traditional church. We attempted a service with the Universal Unitarians, but that wasn't our thing either. We don't "need" church, but we thought we needed the community that come with belonging to a religious organization. But we realized that we don't.
I'm not sure exactly where I am going with this post. I started it because I wanted to talk about this:
And as I started writing the post I realized I needed to talk about my belief in Pantheism to try to make sense of how I was feeling about this creature. And once I started thinking about it, I realized that I needed to go far back in my life to explain how I got to where I am today.
This beautiful bird was struck and killed by a car in my community on Sunday. It lay dead in the busy street for 3 days WITH NO SIGN. When I first saw its body, I gasped. And then I cried. As the days went by, and I drove by it in my car, my heart continued to hurt for this bird and its family. Sandhill Cranes stay with the same mate for several years. I've seen them do their mating dance, I've listened to their mating calls. I've seen them walk through my neighborhood with their chicks with the orange heads and I've watched as those chicks have grown up. These birds are endangered in Florida and PROTECTED by law.
James called me this morning to say that the bird was still there but someone had put a sign up. I immediately grabbed my keys and drove up. I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought maybe it was going to be a RIP type of sign like we see along side the road for a human fatality but as I approached and I saw this, I gasped again. I parked my car in the Sonic parking lot and crossed the street in to the median. I stood there looking at the bird, said a few words in memory of its majestic life, took this one picture and left. I should have brought a shovel. I should have scooped it up, put it in the back of my truck, brought it home and buried it. And I hate myself for not doing it. When the kids and I came home from errands this afternoon, the sign was gone, but the bird was still there. Only now it's been moved in to the median, and I've decided. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will put a shovel in my car and if the bird is still there on my way home from the beach, I will scoop it up. I will bring it home. And I will bury it.
Normally I don't get so worked up over "road kill" though my heart stops every time I see a dead raccoon, armadillo, turtle, or other creature in the road but I don't feel the urge to scoop it up and bury it.
What's the moral of this post? Be aware. Watch what is going on around you. In your life, in your world, in your bubble, in your house. Believe in what ever you want to believe in. Treat the Earth with respect. And Be Happy. Truly Happy. Find your passion. I had lost some of my passion for Pantheism the past few years while I focused on fitness and health. Nature took a back burner. I was selfish. No more. This was a wake-up call for me.