Healing Nature

A good amount of the fortune novelty companies have made from dolphin kitsch must have come from my family and friends who helped me amass quite a collection of dolphin items.  Everything from save the dolphins necklaces to dolphin bottle openers and Christmas lights.  And my love for dolphins is just the beginning of my interest in marine animals; I feel a mystical connection with them.  When I saw sea lions in San Francisco not even their smell or loud barking could tear me away from watching them glide in and out of the water and flop under and over each other.  I got to see killer whales at a Sea World, and was mesmerized by their size, power and grace.  And then just last month I got to see beluga whales.  They’re sort of like over-sized, lumpy dolphins with that same smiling face and joyful (I imagine) disposition.  My friend thought she was going to have to hold me back from jumping into the tank with them. 

One year while I was in a pretty bad state, I went to visit my grandparents in Florida (a.k.a. dolphin kitsch heaven) and was overjoyed when some dolphins came to swim alongside the fishing boat I was in because they enjoy swimming in the wake of boats.  Later that night I read in the God Calling daily reflection book, “Look at the joy God’s creatures have in just being.  Look to them and find peace”.   

In all my youthful ignorance, although I did read a little bit about the horrors befalling marine life because of poachers and boaters, I didn’t really know the harsh realities.  I just knew cute things should not be killed and I said so very convincingly in my 7th grade persuasive speech.  Soon I began to learn about how they are captured and the poor living conditions they have at the very amusement parks that had made my admiration for them swell.  Many parks now, however, are only housing rescued animals, those who needed medical attention (normally because of human error-pollution, boating too close, getting caught in fishing nets, etc.) and cannot be returned to the wild (although they are working on it).

I don’t know why I share all of this romanticism about animals with you except to say this:  These animals speak to me about God, about God our Creator who made this world so abundant.  They speak to me about a God who made each creature so unique and ultimately vital to our ecosystem that I think we need to protect them, unfortunately from the likes of us.  My privilege however is that while others have suffered from floods, animal attacks, and hurricanes, I have had a peaceful existence with nature.  So, that may make it easier for me to find such joy and connection with God in creation but I think the cause continues to be vitally important.  Even if it ‘doesn’t do it for you’, I think we should remember that it does for others and is worthy therefore of our support for the sake of others’ connection with God.  This is not unlike the Latin mass conversation that we had here in the past few weeks and even though I am cautious because I don’t know what it will bring, I don’t like the exclusive language in it, etc., I want to support it for others who love it.  Maybe they haven’t had the same experiences I have and can still enjoy the ancient feel of the Latin mass just as I can still joy in the beauty of nature.

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About Lauren Ivory

Lauren Ivory is a hospital chaplain working on Chicago's diverse north side. After receiving her Master of Divinity degree at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO she went on for further hospital ministry training at the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio. On the side, she enjoys helping couples plan wedding/commitment ceremonies and works with couples as a certified premarital guidance counselor.

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