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Trust (even when birds die)

It can be hard to trust these days. It seems we’ve moved from asking if one thing will be okay to asking, will anything ever be okay?

  • People of color might doubt that anything will change though there is a tonal difference to the protests, this time.

  • Covid-19 marches on, continuing its harmful advance in too many communities and countries – it’s long from over.

  • Jane Goodall tells us humans could cease to exist if we don’t get it right after what the pandemic has told us.

  • And as much as you enjoy the pictures of animals moving into once crowded human areas and think nature has bounced back during recent months, it hasn’t. The extinction rate just keeps climbing.

  • Climate change – don’t get me started! A group of scientists tell us that the collapse of civilization is the most likely outcome

So where do we go from here? Let me share with you these words from “Trust” by Meredith Garmon, one of One Earth Conservation’s Board Members:

Trust that you belong --

That the world needs you doing you.

You can’t fix everything.

You don’t need to wish you could.

I ask you to trust

That what you are

And that your love

is enough.

I know that trust is no easy thing.

Trusts have been broken.

You can’t trust people

To not take advantage:

Men of women,

Whites of nonwhites,

Rich of poor.

You can’t trust corporations

To protect the environment.

You can’t trust half your neighbors

To elect sane and thoughtful leaders.

I know.

I know.

Once you trusted the world not to hurt you,

And it did.

And now you don’t trust yourself

To be safe

If you’re not on guard most of the time

So, do this for me:

Remember the wild geese

The ones that prompted Mary to say

Being good is not necessary,

Repentance is not necessary.

Mary Oliver Wild Geese: "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

Trust that animal.

Whenever you can’t trust your humanity,

Then trust your animality.

Trust in people’s capacity

More than in the beneficence of your savior complex.

Trust in your capacity –

to love with the fierceness of a star

for kindness, for presence, for care –

Then trust the world to receive you

According to its incomprehensible need.

Finally, remember the soldier

Marching to battle

Noticing a dying bird by the road


Movie Thin Red Line: “One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there's nothing but unanswered pain, that death's got the final word, it's laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it.”

I don’t ask you to trust that you won’t get hurt again.

I don’t ask you to trust that you won’t get killed

Any minute now,

Or that vertebrate life on earth isn’t near its end.

I ask you to trust that

There’s something smiling through it.

I’m asking you to feel the glory.

I need to hear these words all the time, especially when I get more bad news from one of our projects in the Americas, where people and parrots are continually harmed and killed. Here is one example...

We don't know the whole story of this dead scarlet macaw, but it appears that they gave their life for their two chicks

My phone buzzed with incoming messages, videos, and pictures from the field a few weeks ago. The parrot rangers in La Moskitia, Honduras were out camping to register active scarlet macaws, an endangered parrot in Central America. As they walked up to the newly discovered nest tree, they saw at the base one of the parents, who had died recently from trauma caused by some kind of predator. Then the team spied one macaw chick on the ground, thin, cold, and with an empty crop. When they climbed the tree, there was another hungry chick in the nest. The other parent watched from a nearby tree, perhaps unable to overcome his or her fear to feed the chicks, and powerless to protect the one on the ground. Perhaps they both had fought off a predator that was after the more vulnerable chicks, and one had died.

Chick discovered on ground

This year we have lost so many nests to human poachers. Must we also witness the natural losses as well? What can I do this so far away, under “at home” orders because of the pandemic? I thought, even if we save the parrots, who will save the forest and the nearly failed state of Honduras, and for that matter, of human society seen as a whole?

But then the smile broke through the dead macaw.

Two rescued chicks

The next pictures that came to my phone was the saving of the chicks. The rangers took the two chicks back to their camp, and then to our rescue center. They are doing well and as soon as they are old enough, will join the many others that have been rescued and liberated in Mabita.

Ranger camp where the two chicks were taken, and where the rangers rest from their work

It seems I am ever learning anew that there is no beauty without tragedy, and that there is always beauty.

In these rangers.

In these chicks.

In me, and in you.

And in our efforts together.

Come, let us trust in our capacity

for kindness, for presence, for care,

to love with the fierceness of a star

Let us feel the glory of nature in all it's beauty and tragedy

Come, join the Parrot Conservation Corps where we will learn much, and with grace, learn to trust from where we are, helping those all over the earth where they are.

(Applications are due July 1 and the program starts in August 2020)

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