Author: Nancy Wade
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21
A few nights ago, our oldest grandson, Brookes, 11, spent the night. We are always pleased when he comes to visit; on this night, he helped me make Frito pie for dinner and then we settled down to watch the documentary, My Octopus Teacher. This beautiful film documents a year spent by a filmmaker forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest. The filmmaker, Craig Foster, descends into the ocean’s depths daily for an entire year to learn about a variety of creatures. His patience is rewarded over time as the octopus loses its fear and approaches the man, grasping Foster’s hand with its long suctioned tentacles. Over time, the two form a bond of recognition and perhaps affection. And Foster witnesses his new friend as it is attacked by a shark. Nature, of course, reflects harsh realities; sometimes it is a battle for the survival of the fittest. Brookes was transfixed by the documentary, asking good questions and commenting on the beauty of the ocean.
The vulnerability of the octopus, both in its relationship with Foster and in its routine exposures to the dangers of the sea, felt tender to me. I thought about how we, as humans, have protections that other creatures do not have. For the most part, we have housing and food. We have access to both warmth and cooling when we need it. We have access to family and friends. Many creatures of our earth have none of these. They have to deliberately seek out food and shelter, warmth and companionship.
This morning, a little after 5:00 o’clock, our dogs woke us up with loud, incessant barking. We got up and found a large brown bear sitting in our back yard, eating something it had found in nature. We are careful not to leave bird seed or other food in our yard so it’s anyone’s guess as to what it was eating for breakfast. It seemed unbothered by the dogs’ barking and sat there contentedly for about 20 minutes before it ambled to the corner of the yard, ascended the wrought iron fence and left the yard. Again, I wondered about its life. What was it thinking as it sat among the tall grasses, hearing the dogs barking and watching us, watching it? Again, a sense of tender protectiveness came to me as I watched this magnificent creature of God navigate in its world.
There are those who would view this gentle bear as prey. Over the years, I have become increasingly opposed to hunting for sport or for food. I think it’s important that we preserve these magnificent animals and that we learn to live together in this beautiful world we call home.