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Nature's Soul, Great Soul

A few weeks ago, OMI Novices and I took a field trip to Treehouse Wildlife Center where the "intrinsic value" of creatures is honored, "independent of their usefulness" as Laudato Si' states in paragraph 140. One of the permanent residents is a turkey vulture named Einstein, later discovered to be female. She was found as a chick and raised by a family. Since Einstein was human imprinted, she cannot be released back into the wild because, seeing herself more human than vulture, she would have trouble surviving. She is a resident for life, living in a glass enclosure inside the TreeHouse Center.

Above is a photo of a painting which hangs near her enclosure. It shows Einstein looking in a mirror and seeing herself human-like. The artist poignantly captured Einstein’s perspective, and the human face is haunting, so much so that I was disturbed by the image. Upon reflection, I find the painting holds implications for us humans who also seem to have an issue with self-identity. We, too, often live in a self-constructed world, failing to see reality, having been disconnected from the natural world for so long. We feel fundamentally unrelated to sun and moon, wind, rain, birds and all the many living beings we often don’t even notice as we live our daily lives.

Richard Rohr describes our situation as having "lost our souls", and so we cannot see soul anywhere else. He writes, “Without a visceral connection to the soul of nature, we will not know how to love or respect our own soul…While everything has a soul, in many people it seems to be dormant, disconnected, and ungrounded. They are not aware of the inherent truth, goodness, and beauty shining through everything.” Rohr believes “…we can’t access our full intelligence and wisdom without some real connection to nature.”

Maybe that is one reason our wonderful world is suffering so much at our hands and why we are suffering too. We are like the vulture whose life is limited, enclosed, and out-of-touch with the magnificence of the natural world that is now beyond her reach; however, we have a choice! We can re-claim our soul within the Great Soul that is the Mystical Body holding all.

It seems that fitting conclusion to this reflection would be to listen to Heather Houston's "Re-Wild My Soul". Enjoy!


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