I saw a tarantula in the wild today, a thrill even for an arachnophobe like me. It was not the first time I had seen one in nature, but it was the first time I had ‘discovered’ it myself. The only other time was while walking in a busy little tourist town in northern New Mexico, my attention having been drawn to it by a large group gathering around as it innocently crossed a path. Hardly an Animal Planet moment…
Today I was driving down to the Wet Valley with a friend, and was between Wetmore and Mackenzie Junction on Colorado 96. We rolled up over a hill and I saw it crossing the road and avoided it. I blurted out, “Oh… oh, wow… There was a… a… whatever you call it, we’ve gotta go back.” In my enthusiasm I initially couldn’t even come up with the creature’s name! Anyway, I pulled a quick U-turn (what my kids call a ‘Mylander Turnaround!’) and drove back to where I could open my car door in the middle of the highway (it was a fairly remote road!) and check it out close up, finally telling my friend what in the Sam Hill (his words) we were doing. After a few moments of examination, I asked him if he wanted me to back up and pull it alongside the passenger door so he could see it, but he replied, “No thanks, that’s already the closest I want to get.”
What a delight to see such a thing. And I have wondered as the day has progressed: why are such things exciting to me? People must think I’m some kind of a nutcase sometimes. I remember years ago a good friend in Minnesota asking me, after another now unremembered excitement over some natural occurrence, “What are you, some kind of an animist?” He was kidding, as he knew me well, but I have never forgotten his question.
We all have to find our
passions, given us as a gift…
Of course, animism is one of the oldest religions in the world, no doubt started by some of our ancestors simply developing or learning respect for nature’s powers and mysteries in all of their manifestations – fire, wind, lightning, powerful animals, seasons, food sources, celestial and terrestrial phenomena. I guess when it comes to religion, people could do far worse than that, and have. But me a nature worshiper? Sure, I admittedly get excited to see such things as a tarantula, which may be a bit nutty, and the other curiosities or beauties of the natural world. But we all have to find our passions, given us as a gift. No, I’m not an animist. I prefer worshiping the Giver of the gift, the Lord of all creation.
…Ask the animals -- they will teach you, the birds of the air -- they will tell you. Speak to the plants of the earth and they will inform you, even the fish of the sea will declare to you: Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing, even the breath of all humankind.
~~RGM, from a journal entry several years ago,
adapted for my blog April 30, 2015