My niece shared with me a book series that she loved reading, Keeper of the Lost Cities. This is a fantasy series best described as the female Harry Potter. Sophie, the main character, grows up amongst humans and learns she is an elf. She then goes to live with the elves and learns that she was created by a group of rebel elves who are seeking to dismantle an evil-oriented group of rebels.
By the fourth book, Sophie and her friends have been forced to go into hiding with the Black Swan (the group that created her). She is growing in her leadership abilities. Her human upbringing has given her a vastly different world view than that of the elves, which from time to time bring about interesting discussions.
During this scene, Sophie and Mr Forkle and Granite (two members of the Black Swan) are discussing the Timeline to Extinction. The elves believe that everything was created for a reason. They have, over the centuries of Earth’s existence, created a conservation sanctuary where all animals that humans believe are extinct still live and multiply. Up until recently they had only found one ‘alicorn’ (a unicorn-like creature). Sophie found a second one who is now pregnant.
Explanation of the Timeline of Extinction:
(Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile, book 2, Shannon Messenger, p 111-112)
“What does that mean?" (timeline of extinction) Sophie asked, squirming as all eyes turned back to her.
“Hasn’t anyone educated this child in the fundamental principles of our world?” Councillor Bronte shook his head so dramatically.
“Councillor Terik was referring to the Timeline of Extinction.” Alden said, reminding Sophie that there were more important things to think about. “With only one alicorn in our care, and no guarantee that we’d ever find another, we’ve been facing the very real possibility that this majestic species would someday go extinct.”
He whispered the last word, like it was too horrible to say at full volume. The elves believed that every creature on earth existed for a reason, and to let one die off would cause irreversible damage to the planet’s delicate balance. That was why they’d built the Sanctuary and worked so hard to protect and conserve the creatures humans thought were either myths or lost.
Discussion of the Timeline to Extinction:
(Keeper of the Lost Citiies: Neverseen, book 4, Shannon Messenger, p 465.
“Are you guys even sure that’s a real thing?” Sophie interrupted. “For all you know, the planet could be fine if something goes extinct.”
“Is there any creature that you could imagine the world without?” Mr. Forkle asked.
“I doubt I’d miss spiders,” she mumbled. “Or mosquitos.”
Granite’s cracked lips twitched. “I’ll admit, those aren’t my favorite either. But nature is an intricate jigsaw puzzle, and every piece matters. Unfortunately, that means that certain species — like the alicorns — leave us vulnerable. But that may change with the baby. And thankfully the Sanctuary has extensive security measures.”
All Beings Reflect the Sacred’s Light:
When we redefine dominion to mean being an ethical compassionate sovereign who protects all under their governance, we awaken to the invitation of the Sacred to widen our who-is-included-under-our-protection tent to include all beings on Earth: plants, animals, birds, fish, etc.
Many of us were taught that animals, birds, fish, plants, trees, etc. do not have souls, do not feel, do not need to be thought of as under our protection. However, if you watch certain species' behaviors then you begin to awaken to the fact that EVERYTHING created by the Sacred has soul, spirit, heart, feels.
Hildegard of Bingen wrote in one of her visions about how God showed her that everything contained the spark of God, the Light of God, even the grass itself. She saw all of the natural world as a beautiful Incarnation and reflection of the Sacred.
Take elephants for example: Elephants have been seen swimming into flood waters to save humans who are struggling in the water. They sense the fear and react with concern, protection, love.
Whales: A mother whale made the news because she has been carrying around her baby who died. She is deep in grief and holding onto her love, her baby. As you watch the videos of her swimming, there is no way you can miss the depth of her grief.
These are just two examples of how our animal friends show their reflection, their spark of God to us.
The Elves have it right!
The elves in the Keeper of the Lost Cities have it right. Something is lost when an animal becomes extinct. Each of us reflects a unique spark of God, expresses one aspect of the Sacred. When we lose one reflection fully from our world, from our lives, from our knowledge and experience, then we lose the understanding and awakening of one aspect of the Sacred. God becomes smaller.
We must work to conserve our endangered animals from extinction. This is the work of stewardship — of working toward the most truthful experience of the Sacred.
Every being is an integral part of our web-of-life, of our world.
Take wolves as an example:
There is a video that talks about how wolves we reintroduced into the habitat of Yellowstone National Park after having been allowed to be removed, hunted, killed to non-existence. When the wolves were gone, the deer population became over-populated. Plants, trees, greenery began to die due to the deer eating habits. Other consequences were beginning to be noticed.
The National Park Service decided to re-introduce the wolves. All of a sudden, Mother Earth started to experience balance again. The wolves were bringing the healing that was needed. Abundance in plant life began to return. Lushness was noticed. The river changed course for the better. Balance and harmony became the result.
Wolves were needed. Without them, the land in Yellowstone began to deteriorate toward devastation. With wolves, the Land healed and thrived again.
Conservation vs Extinction
Stewardship invites us to work toward conservation, toward protection of the entire web-of-life. It reminds us that everything plays an important part in how our world works. When we allow one voice to become extinct, we lose an experience of the Sacred.
How has the natural world reflected the Sacred to you today?
Where have you witnessed the integral balance of the web-of-life around you?
How is the Sacred inviting you to engage in stewardship of Creation?