Saturday, November 6, 2010

Note from the monastery

We were down to fewer than 500 nesting pairs of our fierce national bird when it went on the Endangered Species List in 1967.
The list was turned into a comprehensive law protecting its members in 1973.

Say what you will about the man - and I could say plenty; he's why I have an FBI file - but let it be remembered that this was ONE good thing Richard Nixon did.

The protection worked; today there are more than 10,000 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the Continental United States.
You can see them in South Dakota, along the Mississippi River and along the Hudson River on the way to upstate New York.
Rivers are a gold mine for them, and they patrol it from high in the sky, swooping down in an attack that must leave a fish not knowing what hit it.

The Bald Eagle has been removed from the list, something that doesn't happen to most animals on it; most of them continue their march toward extinction and, on one disconsolate day when nobody is around, the last one crawls under a bush to die.

What must it be like to be the last one?
To find no one else in the world who knows what you know; no one else who sees things as you do?
What must it be like to call and call for a mate and hear no answering call?

Human beings know something about that last one: many of us have called and called for love, to no avail.

Wondered where to go to meet someone wonderful.
Wondered if there is something repellent about us: What is it: Am I not thin enough? beautiful enough? rich enough? too snarky? too funny?

Many of us have longed to speak first and been too shy, and so nobody spoke and the chance was lost.

But we are endowed with a quality that other species would envy: we can expand our passionate search for love and companionship beyond the hope of being part of a pair.

Our capacity for love can be poured into many things: into a posse of friends, or one best friend; into art that satisfies the soul; into nurturing plants and creating our own gardens of Eden and always, of course, into the experience of God and being part of a servant community comprised of those who have dedicated their lives to serving and loving ALL rather than the exclusivity of loving ONE.

Eventually, every living individual passes from the scene, taking our feathers and our fur with us into the fecund earth.But we don't take our love with us.
That stays here.

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