CREDOS: Precious lives — III

Scents of sodden leaves and stubble fields filled the air and the sun went down a little earlier each day. After a few days and nights at the abbey, I began to notice the wildlife all around me. Suddenly, in fact, I was seeing more wildlife than I ever had. I was delighted.

I stood in awe as schools of a dozen or more pilot whales churned by in the changeable waters of the gulf just a few hundred yards away. A bald eagle soared over the cabin’s tin roof. I almost ducked; if I’d been outside I’m sure I could have heard its wings slice the sky. Flocks of ravens traced the lines of an invisible rollercoaster as they rode the thermals above the cliff.

One morning while I was meditating on the deck, four hummingbirds, one after the next, came to draw nectar from the wildflowers nearby. One hovered a couple feet from my face for a few seconds as if to say hello. A small red squirrel scampered on the cabin roof to toss a big, stale dinner roll (scrounged from the abbey’s composting pile) onto the deck in a

barely successful attempt to break it into smaller pieces to stash in a small hole in the ground nearby. I had to laugh. Animals became my companions and I began to befriend them. Back at my home in upstate New York some months before, a bird had crashed into my big kitchen window. But what was the death of a bird compared to the thousands of people slaughtered in Darfur or blown to bits in Iraq? —