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Spring welcomes many of God’s creatures who are all connected

The weather these days is just enough to have us dreaming of spring. Of course, we can’t plant for another six weeks or so, but still... We long for warm sun and sandals and the smell of good earth.

The weather these days is just enough to have us dreaming of spring. Of course, we can’t plant for another six weeks or so, but still... We long for warm sun and sandals and the smell of good earth. At this point I have to issue a disclaimer: I am neither a gardener nor a farmer. Yet that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of new growth and tender green shoots in fields and gardens. Of crocuses raising their shy heads and sweet peas springing forth. If winter has us somewhat disconnected from the earth, spring reminds us of our connection with the soil and the sun and the rain and warm breezes.

New growth, like birth, always stirs hope in the heart. It touches some part of our innermost being, and softens it. We are much more affected by the natural world around us than we sometimes realize. But, of course, perhaps I am only preaching to the converted in this rural part of the country. I guess you have to make allowance for the fact that I was raised a city kid.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we are inextricably connected to the natural world. Sometimes, human beings believe that we are either more evolved or better than other creatures. Certainly many of us would think that we count more than plants and rocks and trees do. But, do we? Sallie McFague, a theologian from Vancouver, argues that we are no more and no less important than all other aspects of the natural world, animate and inanimate. Maybe that’s a strange notion for you. She says that they have their own intelligence and worth. They are certainly not placed on earth simply to serve the needs of human beings.

I was incredibly touched by a news story from New Zealand that came out about a month ago. A mother, and baby, pygmy sperm whale were beaching themselves. Repeatedly a conservation officer (and others) would push them back into the water and just as often they would get themselves stranded on the beach. Everyone whales and would be rescuers, was getting tired and just about ready to give up when Moko, the dolphin, came to their aid. Moko is well known for playing with swimmers just off the beach on the east coast of the North Island.

Well, although it was never before realized that different species could communicate with each other, Moko clearly ‘spoke’ to the whales. The two whales immediately changed their attitude from being quite distressed to following the dolphin willingly. In virtually no time, the dolphin guided them safely through the waters that she knew so well and that the whales obviously did not. The conservation officer was moved to go into the water afterwards and give the dolphin a pat because she saved the day.

This seems like such an unusual story, but maybe it isn’t at all. Maybe it’s just that we were given a peek into a world that functions with the intelligence and kindness that humans think is reserved just for us. There is something in this story that moves me deeply. Perhaps it is the sense both of awe and of kinship with these ocean mammals that it generates in me. These feelings seem as drawn from me as the yearning for the warmth and growth that spring promises. I am embedded in the natural world in ways that challenge my imagination. All of these feelings are evidence of our spirituality. We are creatures of the Creator from whom all life springs.

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed...’ And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ ... Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image...”” Genesis 1:11a, 20-22, 26a