Sunday, April 28, 2019

Give them space

Here is a post from October 8, 2017 that was originally published on a previous blog that I managed. It feels fitting to share it again now since marsh wrens, sora's, Virginia rails, common gallinules, and bobolinks are beginning to arrive at their northern Pennsylvania breeding grounds once again.

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I recall many occasions when I’ve found myself in the presence of some beautiful creature that I could have approached very close for the best photo opportunity but something within me says, “give it space.” And so, I am more than content to keep a respectful distance so as not to cause undue stress to creatures that in most cases already have enough adversity to deal with. 

Snowy owl (Bradford county, PA)

It occurs to me that there is great wisdom and depth of meaning encapsulated in this saying; “Give them space.” 


In addition, I recall that in chapter 12 of the Gospel According to Mark Jesus teaches that the most important commandment is to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In truth I believe that in practice loving God and loving our neighbor are very often one and the same activity. As I work to extend this teaching to my relation with all that has life as much as possible I am discovering more and more that very often the best way to love them is to give them space; not only by providing a buffer zone from my physical proximity but to give them space by working to advocate for and to create the kind of habitat that each needs to thrive.


I’m thinking of the marsh birds from my previous post about the inhabitants of Pennsylvania State Game Lands 313, aka “The Muck.”  Through the preservation of this unique emergent wetland habitat the human community (working through the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Tiadaghton Audubon Society) has given space to some rare and beautiful creatures like the marsh wren, American bittern, sora, common gallinule, and Virginia rail that are hard pressed to find a place of similar compatibility within 50 miles.


Marsh wren (SGL 313 "The Muck.")


I’m thinking of the bobolinks that show up every Spring to breed in our big open fields laying their eggs in the tall grasses and how those people who wait until after the young bobolinks have fledged to harvest their hay have effectively given them the space they need to thrive.



Bobolink (Delmar Ridge, Tioga county, PA)

I’m thinking of the huge success story of the reintroductionof the bald eagle in the state of Pennsylvania as well as our various species of warblers that require unique habitats and so many others.



Golden-winged warbler (Bald Eagle State Park)


Give them space. Just give them space. It is simple and yet it is challenging because it means taking the time to understand the needs of the unique species that inspire us and fill our lives with so much joy and wonder so that we might advocate for and work to nurture environments in which they can thrive for their sake and for ours.



The best way to love our neighbors (people and animals and plants alike), is to give them space. Give them space for healing, give them space for creative expression, give them space for leading healthy productive lives. Give them space.


As I reflect upon each of my experiences with the unique and beautiful creatures you’ve already read about in previous blog posts, these three words continue to inform what I understand as my responsibility in relation to them; “Give them space.”


And I know that when it comes to people who want to extend love and respect to all creatures as much as possible, we are better together. That is why I am a member of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society


If something about this has resonated with you I encourage you to get connected with a local Audubon chapter or other conservation organization in your area (if you’re not already!) through which you can live into this joyful and weighty responsibility with the greatest impact too.

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