We are journeying up and down the Pacific coast of Guatemala within the range of the endangered yellow-naped amazon. Each morning we rise early to catch the bird activity, and do the same thing in the evening.
We are surveying the population, and also training and inspiring as we go, though motivation can sometimes be lacking during the long, hot days, especially when we have counts with zero individuals seen of this species. Even when we count higher numbers of birds, it is far lower than it was 25 years ago. And it may go lower yet.
So what message do we deliver to these people of this area? Do we warn them of peril, or instill confidence in that we can turn the situation around? What message do we in fact receive ourselves for the meaning of our work? We are working against immense odds, and still we plod along. Will we be successful, even in a little in some small place here?
Last night I read in “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles, “Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what is says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.”
I find peace in these words, for it means we live in mystery and all of us carry a jewel, even if we don’t know what it is, can explain it, or can see it with our human limited perception. It is good and right to find peace here on the Pacific slope of Guatemala where we have been working. This region is called this because you drop down in altitude (our highest elevation was some 800 meters) as you leave the volcano slopes and to go to the ocean (we will be on the beach this week in El Salvador). Perhaps like the land here, we will tumble into peace even when it is not possible to know what meaning comes from what we do here – either for ourselves or for others. It’s just our job to carry the one message that is our life, and not drop it, or drop out. I’m not saying it’s easy to work under these conditions, mostly because of the circumstances of the people and parrots here, but it appears that these are the conditions that life set up for us. Knowing we carry treasure, no matter what we do or think, counteracts the status of threatened birds, poverty, violence and climatic and environmental harm evidenced everywhere.
We are the messengers carrying unknown, precious messages, as are the people and parrots with whom we work.