Yesterday (July 5) is an anniversary of no particular significance to anyone except JoAnne and me and the 33 other folks who happened to be in the right place at the right time to experience the greatness of God and the utter tiny insignificance of us humans.
More than two decades ago, JoAnne and I spent the July 4th holiday in Boston to breathe in the atmosphere of independence in the context of where such revolution began. But before we left, simply on a whim, in the midst of a hot (upper 90’s) and sticky “day after,” we signed on to a Whale Watch, and traveled about 25 miles out into the “perfect storm” waters of the Atlantic. What we experienced was, for me, life-changing.
I have often preached about the greatness of our God and the awesome power God exhibits. I know from the teachings of many churches that we have a duty to conserve and protect life and nature. St. Francis of Assisi (who is “owned” by no one church) often reflected such thoughts in his prayer and poetry. But to be on a not exactly “small” tour ship in the midst of a pod of whales that just happened to come our way was truly breathtaking and spiritually enriching. To have what was described as a “young one” glide up to our boat and dwarf us (like a hand enclosing around a peach), to gaze into eyes that were larger than my entire body and looking right into me was humbling. I have never felt so small!
We watched them play. We watched them do that dive-into-the-air and slam-into-the-sea thing they do so well. We heard them call to one another (and to us?) as they swam off. We smelled their breath through the blowholes. (Yuck – really nasty fishy breath … but what else would it be?) And somewhere in my soul, I heard the reminder of our God that we have been given responsibility to care for all God’s creatures and this world of ours.
Just wanted to take a summer’s day to remind any and all who read this that, as disciples of Jesus, we’ve been given a mandate to care for “this fragile earth, our island home.” (Eucharistic Prayer C) From supporting issues that protect our environment, to adopting the unwanted pets that our culture seems to deem disposable and “throw away,” to cleaning up our grounds and never littering, to recycling, to supporting life and quality of life for all God’s creatures – just a reminder that these are not political issues owned by one party or philosophy. These are responsibilities that we, as children of God, have towards all the other creatures with whom we share the space that God once called “good.” (Gen. 1:2)
– Fr. Joe