“That you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast.” (Isaiah 66)
Who is the happier harbor seal in this picture – post-partum mom or nursing pup?
Mom is surely relieved to have birthed the 25 lb. newborn.
But little pup is pretty blissed out too. Enjoy that yummy milk your Mom’s giving you; it’s got the highest fat content of any mammal, 45%. You only get one month for that fatty feast, little one, and then you’re on your own. So drink up.
I saw this scene over and over this past April at Point Lobos State Reserve. Scores of moms and new pups, beach maternity wards. (Dad’s work was done 9 months ago.)
Seals spend half their time on land, hauling out to give birth, as well as to regulate their temperature, molt, and find safety in numbers. But they are skittish, and will scatter quickly at human noise or presence, using up precious energy.
Moms sometimes even leave the pups alone, in caution or simply to feed. But the pups lack “protective wariness” about humans, or dogs. From stress, infection, premature birth, malnourishment and predation, half will die in the first year.
So we watched from a safe distance, atop granite and cypress cliffs. We knew we didn’t want to go to jail for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. But even with posted signs warning us to stay away and to be quiet, it was hard not to ooh and aah. We tried to follow Billy Joel’s wise words: “Leave a tender moment alone.”
I got home and looked up “God as nursing mother” in my Bible concordance. Several choices. Here’s my favorite, from Isaiah 66:
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.” For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66
(Come to Pacific Grove and enjoy our Blue Theology retreats for youth and adults. Bluetheology.com. You’ll see harbor seals every day, at Point Lobos, or a couple blocks from the church, and babies every April. I post these “Blue Theology Tide-ings” every Wednesday here and on Facebook.)