Like many of us in the UK, I’ve been watching David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet which is full of so much beauty, and also heartbreakingly poignant as an awareness of the danger so many creatures and systems of life face seeps through the glory we are watching. The Earth is so very good.
I wonder if you can remember the first time you became aware of extinction – that humans were causing an animal, or a plant, to be threatened? It’s a very powerful moment for many, as it was for me. My own creature was a bird of prey, the red kite, which, of course, I had never seen. I remember the tears I cried as a child on hearing its story. Below are a couple of links to video clips where Charles Eisenstein talks of the sense of loss we can experience, and how we respond.
In my own case, the kites have made a welcome return, spreading far beyond the places in Wales where they have been nurtured and protected. Someone, some people, took time and effort, engaged in research and action, to bring these beautiful birds back from the brink of extinction. There is hope, just, for so many.
Red Kite /Y Barcud
A warm Sunday afternoon,
I lay on the grass, sleepy,
watching the few light clouds
against the blue,
when, suddenly, a swift shadow
passed over me.
A red kite – wide, graceful wings,
forked tail turning and turning to
catch the wind – the wind that
ruffled my own hair.
I stood, in wonder, and whooped,
in joy. Here she is, at last!
She has been gone all my life.
And sadness I felt as a child
came back to me then,
when I had listened to the story
of the red kites – large and graceful,
that glided over the hills and forests
And were hunted – perhaps all gone.
Perhaps every one. Never seen.
Shot. Trapped. Poisoned
by chemicals spread on the land,
sickening the whole web of life.
I remember I wept for them then,
ashamed. How could we?
Make a creature, with a name,
unknown, gone forever,
as if it had never been.
Make a myth out of a living
Since then, I have looked up,
looked up at the sky,
waiting for them to return.
I have watched them spreading east,
now, all my life, and, at last,
at long last they are here.
I wept again. I wept for the loss, and the joy.
May you be safe here,
May you thrive, and be blessed,
May your young fly in these skies,
May the morning sun rise on your wings.