Posted by: MC | September 29, 2013

Annunciation

yes - wilderness  9-2013  mmc

[Posting from the UK – this second guest blog from Gary Ferguson writing here about the change in “making things fresh.”  His are helpful words – a good, even vital reminder – here where we live on the outskirts of all the bluster and impulse in DC toward shutting down the government.  Read and enjoy — mmc]

A number of years ago, while teaching a nature writing class in Yellowstone, I had the great pleasure of having as a student Sister Helen Prejean. By then she’d gained much acclaim for her work helping the troubled and the down-and-out, including her correspondence with two convicted murderers, Elmo Sonnier and Robert Willie, which later became the book Dead Man Walking.

On our last day together, out walking along the Specimen Ridge Trail, Sister Helen brought up the subject of annunciation. I’d only known the word in religious terms, as a reference to the Christian celebration of the angel Gabriel telling Mary she was destined to become mother of the Son of God. But sister Prejean had a much broader take. She said annunciation was the act of making something fresh, of bringing an ideal more fully to life by making it real in our everyday world. It seemed a perfect notion for where we were right then, in that wild country high above the Yellowstone River, cradled in an ideal that a century before, and with lots of hard work, became the world’s first national park.

These are rough times in the West. Over the past seven years a small, but powerful gaggle of angry men have once again been pushing to undo longstanding American ideals – from dismantling the Endangered Species Act, to gleefully eradicating the wolf. The wolf population on the northern range of Yellowstone, in fact, has now dropped to just forty animals – a condition due in part to a state hunting policy that’s allowed Yellowstone wolves to be  slaughtered along park borders. The conservation ideals brought to life by people like Adolph Murie and Aldo Leopold, not to mention so many others – ideals of ecology and preservation – will not survive without renewed care and feeding. We need a conservation annunciation. We need to make those ideals fresh, see them with new eyes. We need them to again fire the notion that kindness to life on earth is an essential act of humanity. 

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