I don't know why Herriott, one of our ewes, won't stop baaaa-ing. It's a sunny afternoon, the wind blows through the leaves of the Big Maple trees. The grass in the pasture waves like a little chartreuse inland ocean. So I don't know what she is trying to tell me. Is her slightly arthritic front leg hurting her? Is she whining for more sweet molasses and oats? I don't know what she is signaling, even as I often don't know what those who are close to me are signaling. Perhaps even more important, I don't know what the Universe is trying to teach me. The oil continues to disgorge its poison into our Gulf waters, even as I write. So what am I to learn?
My Louisiana homeland wasn't prepared for this assault. We waited and believed for too long that the giant BP and/or the government would do what it promised - to clean up, quickly. Each creature, I believe, has a soul. The Louisiana brown pelicans and other wildlife have a soul that is no less radiant than our own. But corporations have no soul, and this is something that we need to remember.
I choose to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that everything occurs to teach us the lessons we need to learn at that very moment. We hear about the "top kill" technique. We hear about attempts to cap the well with containment domes. We hear about hoses used to gather escaping oil. We hear about fishermen in the Gulf and the disruption of their way of life.
I am a believer in the moon and the moon's power - you can certainly see that in "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder". I grew up in a state where the moon, when almost full, glowing behind clouds, was called a "shrimping" moon. I grew up believing that God is good. I still do believe that the Gods and Goddesses are good, but as I walk through the garden here at my home 2,500 miles away from the world in which I was formed, I ask the Universe again, "what am I to learn from this?"
For a while my husband and I lived on the eastern shore of Alabama on Mobile Bay. There we would sit on the pier and watch brown pelicans fly by in flocks so thick that for a moment it seemed a cloud passed in front of the afternoon sun. Not far from where we lived was a little town called Magnolia Springs. There, we would go to the old general store where you can still stock up on groceries and also sit down to a good meal.
As reported in the New York Times, at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/us/08dam.html, right now Mr. James Hinton, a volunteer fire chief in Magnolia Springs, has come up with a plan to address the oil spill with lessons learned from Louisiana. Weeks Bay, an estuary off Mobile Bay, has bald eagles, wood storks, and almost 20 other federally protected species. The people in Weeks Bay didn't like the unified command structure set up to deal with cleaning up the spill. They didn't like BP's lack of support in protecting their shorelines from oil contamination. Look at how Mr. Hinton pulled together the people of his community together! I am heartened by the simple, bravery of this volunteer fire chief. I think that he was listening to the call for action. I think that perhaps this is one of the lessons that the Gods and Goddesses, as I understand them, may be trying to teach us. Namely, that we are responsible to question any "unified command" (a scary phrase to begin with...) and to look at ourselves to see what call for action needs to be taken.
The spreading oil has already reached the panhandle of Florida. If it keeps on going, it will reach the reefs and fishing holes and tourist meccas of the Western and Eastern Florida coasts. It's hideous, and the spill results from the negligence of business and government. We have got to tighten drilling regulations and each one of us must do at least two things; demand a cap on carbon emissions, and do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by mindfully keeping the pain of the pelicans in mind as we do our best to break our addiction to oil.
In the same way, I don't have the answers for how I am to respond to this oil spill, except to listen closely, question all authority and, as the New Yorker did so eloquently on a recent cover in which oil officials sat in front of a court made up of fish, storks, pelicans and porpoises, speak out. It is for these vulnerable creatures that we need to speak and ask, because the people in charge have stuffed cotton in their ears.
In "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder," a character that Calla Lily loves dearly is killed in an offshore oil incident much like the 11 men who were murdered in the BP oil explosion. I am often told that it was as though I were telling the future when I wrote that. Sadly, I wasn't. The future was inevitable, because the greed for oil is so thick.
I still don't know why Herriott the ewe won't stop calling out. She's been fed, she's been watered. We've taken care of her the best we know how. The pelicans, the turtles, the people on the Louisiana Gulf Coast call out. It's important that I learn to listen to the voices of those who do not speak our human languages. The waters, the pelicans, the sheep and our plant all need us to do what we can to protect and care for them. I need to speak out. I need to take action. This disaster teaches us that each of us can do what we can.
I'm headed out to the pasture now. I'm going to check the barn. Maybe clean it out a little, even thought it was recently done. Gonna throw some fresh hay down, scrub out the water trough, put some oats in the feeder, and then just stand there for a while and say a silent prayer of pleading; thanking; asking for forgiveness; and immediate, appropriate, compassionate action and punishment for those responsible for this murder.
How does all of this make you feel? What can you learn? What can each of us do? One simple, yet powerful act is to write to our legislators to let them know of our outrage. http://www.congress.org/communicate provides information on contacting those in government to express an opinion, share an idea or give credit where credit is due. Another option is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or even a national publication. http://www.ehow.com/how_2166775_devise-strong-letter-editor.html will guide you through the process to help you produce a letter that gets your point across.
If you could speak directly to those who can make an impact, who would it be? What would you say?
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