This past week I was listening to a woman being interviewed on NPR. She has been volunteering for some weeks now cleaning the thick oil off the pelicans in Louisiana. Her voice faltered several times as she described the heartache of watching several of them die or struggle with wings to laden to lift. I hear the weary gratitude when her scrubbing efforts with simple dish soap and water restore a number of these birds towards health.
The photos of oil slicked birds display in Technicolor detail what havoc we humans can wreak on the rest of the animal kingdom in our insatiable need for more. Even if you are the unusual “bird” who doesn’t get too emotional about animals or feel a kinship with nature, amongst the gazillion other lessons we can glean from this disaster, one is the absolute necessity to put our environment before the profits and desires of big business.
We are discovering the hard way that this paradigm of short term gain is actually putting the “people on Main Street” out of their small businesses and livelihoods that have been a family’s source of pride for generations. We all have become accustomed to being an active consumer in a consumer society (myself included). So, to a degree, we are all complicit in the continuing crisis.
One of the sources of healing, that can change our thinking and shift the collective perspective is the wisdom of Celtic spirituality. Theirs is a language that can guide us to a new or remembered perspective about the creatures (on land and sea) and the landscape we inhabit. As John O’Donohue relates in his book Anam Cara- A Book of Celtic Wisdom, we are the newcomers here:
“The animals are more ancient than us. They were here for millenia before humans surfaced on the earth…Animals live outside in the wind, in the waters, in the mountains, and in the clay… (They) know nothing of Freud, Jesus, Buddha, Wall Street, the Pentagon, or the Vatican. They live the politics of human intention…The Celtic mind recognized the ancient belonging and knowing of the animal world. The dignity, beauty, and wisdom of the animal world by any false hierarchy or human arrogance.”
Instead, Celtic spirituality was a reservoir of stories that told of the union between animals and humans. These tales fastened us to the wild landscape, grounding ourselves as a part of the circle of life, not as apart.
My friend Kim has a saying she often uses for when her deepest intuition guides her to make a difficult decision or leads her to a clear perspective. She says, “I know it in my knowings.” That’s what Celtic spirituality calls us to. Not to heed the heated and divisive mob mentality, but to listen in stillness to a saner, less selfish approach.
Instead of “drill baby drill”, what we have gotten is “spill baby spill”. This too shall pass (with a heavy toll for years to come), but LET’S LEARN THE LESSON IT IS TRYING TO TEACH US.