Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Prayers for the Pelicans

In every lifetime there are historical events that occur and in some ways manage to shape your reality. These events are the kinds that you can recall almost the exact place you were standing, or the thoughts you were having a second before they occurred.

I remember filing into the school lunchroom as a child and waiting with anticipation for a teacher to launch into space. I dreamed of becoming an astronaut one day and I was especially excited for this historic event. Then suddenly the cheering was halted, the room filled with gasps, and as my teacher rushed to turn off the television the dreams of an entire nation evaporated into the Florida sky.

I remember the September morning that my father called me in Santa Fe. It was uncharacteristically early for my phone to ring and my heart pounded wondering why. My father said that he "knew I did not have a television, and he thought I should be aware of what was happening in the world." We cried as he explained the events that were unfolding in New York City. As I hung up I looked out over the most serene high desert landscape and I could not comprehend the terror that others were experiencing at that very moment; my heart ached for them.

I find myself wondering what these eyes will see in his lifetime. What events will occur that will shape his life and form memories that become part of his being? Already in the few months since he has been born there have been terrible earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and most recently the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I know that he is too young to remember these things right now, so I will be responsible for telling him what the world was like before these historic events occurred.

I hope that I can find a way to explain to him why we humans have made such a mess of this planet. I will tell him that I remember running along the beach in Texas, chasing my brothers in and out of the waves, wearing our tennis shoes so we would not step on jellyfish. I hope that he will one-day be able to see the same ocean, without worrying that he will be covered in oily residue. I sincerely hope that there are jellyfish, and turtles, and dolphins still swimming there by the time we visit again.

Right now when I hold him close and describe all the things that are wonderful about this world, I make sure to mention the coast where I grew up. We talk about the precious estuaries that connect the rivers and the sea where the waters meet. We talk about the birds that use these nesting grounds as they travel across the globe. We make sure to send our love to all the people who are trying to fix this mess, and when we say our prayers we include all animals, but especially the Brown Pelicans.

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