And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:20-21, 26
In the flipbook of images that accompanies my memory, there is one that keeps rising to the forefront in these recent days.....
Sometimes, when the days get too cluttered and time seems too short, I escape all alone to the beach. To a small island where the rowdy Atlantic crashes right underneath my window, I decamp with a straw bag stuffed with intriguing books and one unsullied notebook. I subsist on chicken salad and honeydew melon. I go to bed early by an open window, lulled to deep sleep by the sound of the waves. In a couple of days, I return home with calm sea breezes blowing through my formerly crowded thoughts. I am a new woman.
It was on such a trip that I saw them, one February morning, just after dawn. With my shawl wrapped around me, I had come down to the porch to read in the early morning light. There was a mist hanging low on the shoreline, a gauzy confection that bewitched the scene into a impressionistic masterpiece. They entered from out of the fog, a sight grandly prehistoric and one I felt privileged to see. Seven large pelicans. Like oracles from another age, they stood together on the sand, staring off over the water, a conclave of wonderment. They were magnificent and rendered me utterly trivial.
This anamnesis now causes me pain, recurring over and over as it has in the light of the horror unfolding in the waters of the Gulf. The images of these astonishing creatures now drenched and gasping, covered in oil, is too terrible even to imagine. But it is happening at this very moment.
When God gave man dominion over the seas, did He realize what we would do with that power? Did He know it was even possible for us to lose all respect for the Earth and its beauty? That our selfishness and greed could usurp our desire to care for the creation he entrusted to our hands?
If, like me, you are grieved over this tragedy and what it means for these grand birds of the sea, I urge you to go to this site and do what you can to help.
Painting by John James Audubon