Monday, November 24, 2008

Video: A Prayer for Earth and All Her Beings


Penguin Toss

At the bottom of each blog entry are some "daily bird meditation" questions I invite you to reflect upon, and answer back to me or to one another in the comment section.

Go Ahead and Have Some Fun


I have loved penguins since I was a small child. They are birds and can swim, and can withstand harsh ocean environments. This combination made them irresistible and heroic to me. I was a swimmer myself who sometimes felt, like the penguins, a little round and off balance on land.

When I was in my early thirties, I lived in Alaska and California. I traveled often up and down the West Coast. One of my favorite stops was the Portland Zoo. A good friend worked there and would let me wander around with her while she fulfilled her obligations. One day she invited me into the Penguin enclosure. There the penguin caretaker introduced me to the fledgling Humboldt penguins and let me feed them their silver, slippery fish. After we fed the young penguins the caretaker picked up one of the young, somewhat fluffy birds and threw her or him into the swirling mass of penguins swimming around the rocks. The shock to me was as great as it must have been to the bird. "Why did you do that?" I asked.

"It’s because the birds need to learn to swim and need to socialize with the flock, and they won’t go into the water unless there is a physiological impulse, which we don’t have here in captivity. So we have to throw them in. Would you like to throw one?" I was appalled and shook my head no. I watched her throw a number of penguins. It didn’t seem to hurt the birds. The urge to throw one began to grow along with the awareness that I might never get another chance. So I stepped up the mound of rock upon which the remaining dubious looking youngsters huddled, choose a likely candidate, did my penguin pitchers wind up, and let her fly. With a satisfying plunk the bird entered the water, came up bobbing, and scrambled onto the rocks next to me. I smiled deeply and broadly, my glee originating in imagining someone picking me up and throwing me in so that I could swim with these mighty ocean goers. Empswim

Where do you hold yourself back from having fun? What will you do today that connects you with the world and bring a smile?

Photo Credits:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tears in the Field

Tears in the Field

My first call as a parish minister was to El Paso, Texas. Neither Meredith nor I had lived in the Southwest. Our first November there the two of us went on a camping loop that swung through Bosque del Apache (Apache Woods), a wildlife management area that offers winter habitat for many species, most notably waterfowl and Sandhill cranes. This stop was an obvious no-brainer for us both. I delight in watching other people discover birds and sharing with them the beauty of winged life. My spouse Meredith delights in watching me watch him watch birds.  


As we drove around the refuge I couldn’t believe the diversity and abundance of birds we were seeing. I was ecstatic and Meredith was being a good sport trying to understand how this place was a slice of heaven for me. On a dirt road next to a flooded field we came within 15 meters of a flock of croaking Sandhill Cranes. Not taking his eyes off the birds, Meredith also croaked: "What are those?"

"Well, those would be Sandhill Cranes." Silence followed until he whispered, "And those browner ones – are they a different species?" "No, those are their babies, on their first migration from the winter nesting areas."


More silence. I turned to Meredith. Was he bored? Distracted? He stood transfixed. Tears streamed down his face. Joy had surprised him. He broke into a weeping laugh.

Since that day, he looks for birds on his own without me and always reports back what glory he was gifted to see. And every time I see a crane – the most ancient of all bird species – I remember their power to transform and grow us into happier and more aware beings.

I now live in North Florida and soon the cranes will arrive here, echoing across the skies throughout the winter their haunting quesitons:  When have you been surprised by joy? How has your life been changed by unexpected gifts that interconnect you to all of life?   


Photo Credits:  


(Jerry Friedman at Bosque del Apache)

(close up)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Prayer for Earth and Her Beings




I created this as a prayer for our species so that we might learn to love our neighbors of all species as our selves. I'd be interested in hearing what these images bring up for you as you ponder these questions: What does it mean to be human? Given what we are as a species, what is ours to do in this world, with our one precious life?


Con esperanza,