¬†¬†¬†¬† Georgia O’Keeffe once¬†made a comment¬†that has stayed with me for many years:¬† “God told me that if I painted the Pedernal (a mountain in New Mexico) enough times, He would give it to me.”
¬†¬†¬†¬† The artist’s comment came to my mind recently¬†as I¬†watched a bright-eyed¬†titmouse,¬†perched on the edge of the feeder, while I also savored the sounds of a couple of juncoes nosing about in the brush.¬† If I love these birds enough, I wondered, can I¬†save¬†them?¬† Can my love¬†protect them from the hardships imposed by global warming and a degraded environment?¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† As I savored the sights and sounds of¬†the birds around my home, I remembered¬†something else.¬† I recalled how,¬†many years ago,¬†I told a wise woman¬†of¬†the grief I¬†felt for the planet,¬†of my sense of helplessnes and frustration that, despite my great love for many of my¬†fellow species, I¬†was impotent, utterly¬†unable to¬†help them survive the¬†threats they face.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Then,¬†a thought I’d never had before popped into my head, and I asked her: ¬† “Do you think it’s possible that my love itself¬†could make a difference?”¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† “Of course it does!” she answered, without a moment’s hesitation.¬†¬†¬†Her reply comforted me.¬† Someone whose opinion I respected so much was sure¬†that my love actually benefitted the creatures I love so deeply.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Was she right?¬† Well, I’m¬†at least¬†certain that my love does no harm to the birds and all the other creatures whose beauty fills my heart.¬† And I’m sure¬†that the¬†love I feel is good for me, even though it is¬†inextricably mixed with grief.¬† After all, I am more alive than if I turned away from the love because of the pain.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† A poet I admire, Stanley Kunitz, said it¬†very well:¬†¬†”The heart breaks and breaks, and lives by breaking.”–April Moore¬†