Saturday, April 11, 2009

Preying and Praying for Life


(Riding up to the nests with journalists from National Geographic, family members, volunteers, and biologists - all eager to see beauty)

We come to our last nest of the second week
of macaw chick observation here with a near fiesta atmosphere.  Our ailing chicks from last week that we
treated are improved, and the one failing chick has food in his crop this
morning.  His hunger cries do not disturb
our mornings, though the calls of his aggrieved circling parents haunt my soul,
as do those ghosts of all birds I have known and lost.  There is something primal, emotionally deep
and so very real in their voices that speak of threat and unanswerable
pain.  Indeed there will be losses this

The very last nest we climb that contained
two relatively healthy chicks last week is now empty, their rainbow visions now
only for cameras, never to soar over this earth. 


(Beloved chicks captured forever on film and in hearts - photo by Merlina Barnes, WCS Volunteer)

Evidence points to the nest being predated by
a Collared Forest Falcon, who in feeding its own must kill another’s.  It seems a final statement on all the
tragedies of a country beset by poverty, violence, and genocide.  Human beings must harm
to survive, but desmasiado (too much).


We walk back from the nest through Mayan
ruins and we hear above us a Forest Falcon calling.  It’s voice taunting us from above echoes
through the forest and in our hearts. 
Melvin climbs over covered ruins in pursuit of a closer view and picture
of this wondrous predator.  Now he is the
one stalking beauty that beats within the same breast as does tragedy and
death.  If we forgive the falcon in a
matter of minutes, might we learn somehow to forgive our own species?

I recall a quote from the movie, The Thin Red Line.  The hero caught up in the destruction of
World War II in the Pacific looks down and sees a parrot chick struggling in
ashes, bombed out of it’s nest from the shelling on the enemy line. The soldier
muses, “One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there’s nothing but
unanswerable pain.   Another man sees
that same bird and feels the glory – feels something smiling through it.” 

In my return to parrot conservation in
Guatemala I recall the pain of loss and death, for it is with me always, but I
also cannot, and will not be separated from the beauty of falcon, forest, and
fires, for they are in me too.  We humans
come out of the ashes of dead stars, out of earth, out of Africa, and to ashes
and dust we return.  Our foot prints on
this world need not mark our days with thoughts of only harm, for in the
history and evolution of our past is the story of wholeness, and though this
web of life catches us with messy interconnection, I pray we can answer the
ravaging ways of our kind with love and with forgiveness.  Kindness and earth first, for there is never
a second chance for this moment again, no matter what it brings.


 Praying Together With Life

(baby Howler Monkey at ARCAS Rescue Center near Flores, Peten, Guatemala)

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