March and Irretrievable Beauty



As I was reading through the notes on the Missouri Natural Events calendar for March and wondering what I have to look forward to, I let out a moan when I got to the ninth and read, “Time for ticks to appear”. How I dread the re-emergence of ticks, not to mention those miserable biting buffalo gnats that emerge in May here along the river! I felt like Alice in Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass where a Gnat asks Alice, “What sort of insects do you rejoice in where you come from?” Puzzled by the question, Alice replies, “I don’t rejoice in insects at all!”


On the other hand, there are many insects I do rejoice in, like the rainbow scarab beetle pictured above that appeared last July in the bird bath in my back yard. It caught my attention and admiration. After taking pictures of this beetle beauty, I learned Ancient Egyptians were so taken with it that they made jewelry that looked like this scarab. Most interestingly, it was an object of worship in Ancient Egypt!


Unlike these Egyptians, our civilization is better known for its relationship of enmity with the insect world. Consider the many ads for pesticides (a telling word in itself) you’ve come across like, “Ortho Insect Killer for Lawns”. In ecological circles I constantly read about reducing our use of pesticides. While that is essential, I believe the solution also involves a nurturing a spirituality that includes all species. Thomas Berry has wisdom to share in this regard: For the intimate relations of the human with other modes of being has been perhaps the most neglected aspect of our spiritual teaching. A neglect that has been an enormous detriment to ourselves and to the entire community of living and non-living beings on the earth…We seem unable to recognize that there is a single sacred community of the entire universe. Not only is the human sacred. The entire universe is sacred! How wonderful! We could not ourselves be sacred except in a sacred universe. (From “The Intimate Universe: A Challenge to Religious Communities”)


Pope Francis’s rich insights from the section in Laudato Si on biodiversity are also worth pondering: But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves. (34)


Which do you rejoice in where you come from?


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