PSALM OF REVERENCE
Barry Lopez is a Canadian scientist who has spent many years studying life in the Arctic, and his book Arctic Dreams is also a poetic view of life and the creatures he studies. He tells the story about a lark sitting on her nest and refusing to leave it when he walked towards her. So he took to bowing to the birds, in acknowledgement of their courage and determination to live in such a hostile place. It makes me aware of the need for all of us to reverence life on our planet.
- I bow to the birds in the Arctic:
I acknowledge the landscape around me
in darkness and cold.
- Our earth is itself an organism:
seen as a whole from space, it's like a plant or animal;
- though we still don't understand its life:
there are yet more areas of wilderness for us to study.
- Have you ever heard silence like the sound up north:
or have you met God whose sound is silence?
- This wilderness is beyond our habitation:
yet there are creatures here that do find a living.
- New lands are exciting places - we like to be curious:
the borders of things are attractive for us to discover.
- We come with assumptions of what to expect:
in a region that's unexplored we want to take charge of it;
- yet to battle with hostile elements is not why we go:
but to learn to live a new life and see what it offers us.
- So I respectfully bow towards all this land is:
because of its boundless riches in unlikely places.
- Human beings have power over other creatures:
technology gives us the feeling that we're in control,
- but we'll need to practice restraint:
we must learn when to defer to what's around us.
- Mother earth has nurtured us well:
we'll only destroy ourselves unless we acknowledge her;
- the coral reefs are shrinking through human pollution:
tropical forests are cleared by companies exploiting them;
- if we continue to over-fish, we'll lose a livelihood:
if we selfishly use all resources, the earth will reject us.
- It's possible to survive and live well on this planet:
I make a deep bow to the land with its wonderful riches.
- Our ancestors were able to live here adjusted to nature:
we are disturbing the balance and losing respect for the earth,
- in such an abundance of life, help us, God, to revere it:
to make our bow to this earth
and acknowledge your goodness.