Going Forth in Conservation


Our conservation group in Punta Manabique along the Atlantic Coast of Guatemala - flying free as our spirits soar together for the sake of the yellow-headed parrots (Noe, Jesus, LoraKim, Julian, Yaqui, Roxana, Miguel, Miguel, Erick)

Recently while working with the endangered yellow-headed parrot in Guatemala, where there are less than 100 individuals, I had a conversation with one of CONAP’s staff members.

CONAP colleagues Miguel, Salvador, Julian, and Noe at our beach camp

He asked me about my work as a Unitarian Universalist minister and I said that I didn’t serve congregations so much anymore, but that my ministry was concrete conservation work with communities in the Americas. He replied, “Well that makes sense, for after all Jesus told us to go forth into the world.” I don’t know if I am following the guidance of any one religion with my conservation work, but I do have a sense of urgency that the earth needs our deep commitment and rapid action, now.

More colleagues in Guatemala - doing the hard, complicated work of caring for wildlife (David Barilla of CONAP, Christa Schieber de Lavarreda of Taka'lik Archeological Park, and Manuel Galinda of COLORES)

One of my Nonviolent Communication (NVC) trainer colleagues recently wrote, “I really don’t care anymore about my 'inner' world and my distorted malignant needs for ease and comfort. I care about the lives of my grandchildren and the health of the oceans, the air, the land and all the creatures that are being displaced every day. I don’t need empathy. I long for company.” I concur, and hence have been leading less workshops as an NVC trainer, unless they center on service to earth and her beings.

Manuel Galindo, Rocio Silva, and Fernando Aldana staffing our COLORES booth

(photo thanks to Fernando)

Don’t get me wrong, the “inner work” merits our focus, and I wrestle with how to both serve and savor the world. Healing our own wounds and warped cultural subconscious neural wiring is vitally important to our activism work, and I fully realize, as do my close friends and family, that my ego has been far from honed down to anything close to enlightenment. I am full of quirks, justifications, and both founded and unfounded anxiety. Yet, at this moment, I feel that life doesn’t offer the luxury of my obtaining a comfortable status quo of my inner workings. The paradox here, of course, is I am assuming that my “outer” work is all that necessary in the scheme of things or that what I do is important. But I do believe that what “we” do is vitally important. So, I contribute my miniscule efforts, which become a grander thing in the company of others. I can go forth servicing life because of the good companions that journey with me, such as the wonderful group of Guatemalans I worked with these past weeks (as shown in the photos).

Our yellow-naped amazon conservation team on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala

(Manuel, LoraKim, Colum, Rocio, Paulino)

Conservation is for us together, then, a prayer that we utter as we look up in awe at forest cathedrals, partake in silence sitting quietly in mountain abbey meadows, dance in boats twirling along ocean temple waves, chant repeatedly, our cries echoing in desert canyon mosques, sacrificing ourselves along volcanic slopes, and singing hymns in the grasslands. We ask life to let us honor it, to let us "do" the beauty that all beings are.

(Photo to right: Yaqui, Julian, and Miguel counting parrots on swampy river in Guatemala)

View while counting parrots in Southern Guatemala

Manuel's view while counting parrots, a form of prayer and meditation

Miguel moving to somewhat dry land to count parrots, a service to the world

Sunset counting parrots in Guatemala City

Noe at sunset counting parrots, a time of meditation and prayer-like focus

We look up to life, to All, and to each other

#Nonviolentcommunication #UnitarianUniversalist #religion #Guatemala #conservation #Parrots

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