Sunday, December 18, 2016

While heaven and nature sing

Charlie Russel
Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings - Conservationist Charlie Russell, who lived in the midst of grizzly bear heaven in the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) for eight summers, told a touching story about a nine-month-old cub whose mate was killed by a predator male.

The orphaned cubs were star players in the BBC Documentary Russell filmed during the summer, as a summary of his “Grizzly Bear Co-Existence Study”.

On the third day following the killing, after what was obviously a time of mourning, the young cub insisted his human companions follow him into the wilderness. For some time he (and they) searched the familiar places to confirm his mate was not to be found.

One last time “he waited for we faltering humans to catch up”. “After eating some of the rolled oats and sunflower seeds we carried,” he watched as we turned back, our hearts torn and heavy. But the time had obviously come for the strong, sleek youngster to strike off for the snowy peak to hibernate.

He spelled it out so clearly, “with a bravery that I’d never seen in an animal before”.

“And heaven and nature sings”, the Christmas carol proclaims. Theologian Thomas Berry would say “Ah ha. See how nature and human nature interconnect!”

He would remind us that we are one among thirty million species on earth. Thinking only of our superiority has been like a debilitating virus inflicting much of the human race. But if we can reawaken our gift of curiosity, and with humility view our complex relationship with the Universe, we will be gifted with passion and re-energized.

Re-discovering the wonders of life will make each day a profound adventure. Our work, our learning, and our own growth will be fed by curiosity and excitement.

When the time comes our youth, too, will leave the home place. The prayer is that they have such a sense of connectedness with their rural heritage that they will know who they are and where they belong.

This Christmas, as you share the spiritual gifts of the season, sing out “repeat the sounding joy … while heaven and nature sing.”

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