Wednesday, May 20, 2020
I wondered, “Are there poems about flow?” Look at what I found - this poem “Flow” written on a napkin at a bar. Poet Bob Makela collected “Barstool Poems” after a lonely night at a San Francisco bar. He and his roommate were having trouble working up the courage to speak to women.
“We were a couple of wimpy guys who had no guts to get up and talk to the women around us,” Makela says. “So I took a pen and a cocktail napkin, jotted down the title to a poem, slid my friend the napkin and said, ‘Write a poem to fit that title.’”
Soon their creative juices were flowing. The pair was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “We met all the women in the bar that we had wanted to meet, but didn’t have the guts to get up and talk to,” Makela says. He has published several volumes of Barstool Poetry and created a more creative, fluid way to make connections, via poetry.
Posted by Deborah Streeter at 7:09 AM
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
What Happens When Humans Are Gone?
“Can the fish in that tank see us people?” is a common question at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Answer – no. Birds and mammals – yes. But even they seem to ignore the visitors. They do care about the staff, at lunchtime, otherwise, pretty self-sufficient.
It’s a good humbling reminder - animals in the wild get along fine without us, probably better. Alan Weisman’s fascinating book, The World Without Us, tells how quickly so-called nature would take over if all humans disappeared.
We call sea otters a “keystone species” – if they disappear, their whole habitat crashes. The kelp forests would be gone, because otters eat the animals that eat the kelp. 100 years ago when we hunted otters to the brink of extinction there wasn’t much of a kelp forest. The otters’ slow return also revived the kelp.
Are we humans a keystone species – if we were gone, would the habitat crash? No, it might very well thrive.
Related question: Now that the Aquarium is empty of the usual thousands of daily human visitors, do the animals notice, are they acting any differently? The staff is still there, feeding and keeping them healthy. Otherwise, I doubt the animals notice much else different. Maybe that it’s quieter.
And in outdoor waters, lakes and river and ocean, do those wild wet critters notice that something has changed in the past two months?
We know the air is cleaner, the world is quieter. Animals must notice this.
Normally the birds in the Aviary very obediently stay on the dune side of their exhibit during the day, no glass. But I sometimes imagine they hop or fly into the public space at night. Maybe they even have a party to celebrate we are not in the way. Fabulous marine scientist and artist Ray Troll painted this mural “Jelly’s Night Out” for a MBA jellyfish exhibit some years ago – now those are some party animals! (www.trollart.com)
And the Aquarium shared this unusual pic on their Tumblr acct of all five exhibit otters in the tank at once – usually only three or four. “The girls say hello from the otter side. All five of our resident rescues are on exhibit right now, which means the rascality levels are at maximum! Thanks to awesome aquarist Jessica for this pic of everyone’s favorite feisty five.” (https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/about-us/follow-us-on-social-media for fab pics, talks, behind the scenes stuff.)
I post these Blue Theology ocean devotionals every Wednesday, here and on Facebook.
Posted by Deborah Streeter at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Happy Ocean Mother Day
“Look, I brought my mother to church today,” I said a year ago on Mother’s Day at Skyland Community Church UCC as I held up this beautiful blue bowl that Anne Swallow Gillis gave me long ago, filled with saltwater and seashells.
Being a Blue Ocean preacher I could not resist linking Mother’s Day with the ocean. The rich dark sea is mother of us all – she birthed all life billions of years ago and continues to ferment and foment new life. And every human mammal spent nine months in the salty fertile ocean inside our mother’s womb.
This fabulous banner over the altar looks like that first wet morning breaking in the Genesis story, the Spirit “hovering over the deep and sweeping over the face of the waters.” I think God just said, “Let there be Light, Morning has Broken! “ (I know, it looks like an angel, I haven’t spoken with the banner’s creator, but to me it’s the Holy Spirit straight from her hovering and sweeping over all that blue and now she’s bursting with the light.)
I decorated the altar with the bowl and with my four Blue Theology stoles, (click the pic to see the whole altar) and told the stories of the three dear wise talented mothers who created them– Sandy Johnson (orcas on the right and ocean diversity, second from left) whose “Woman of the Cloth” makes fabulous stoles, Patricia Wood, who gave me the sweet light silky one on the left, and Sue Lawson who made the sea star stole for me last year when I led a Blue Theology Retreat at our church in La Selva Beach.
We shared in the sermon time how our own mothers have been like the ocean, not only creative, nurturing, uplifting, but also sometimes restive, deep, even destructive. There is power in mothering.
One theory about the origin of stoles that pastors wear (besides being like a yoke or like the towel an athlete wears around their neck) is that it is like the soft cloth that a mother (or father) wears all the time on their shoulder when holding a little baby, to comfort and to absorb some “fluids.” Yes, stoles too can get wet. I call my stoles my mother clothes, and my blue ocean stoles are my most precious.
I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook. Obviously this post is a repeat from last May, when we could still worship together inside. Mercifully we are still able to walk and worship outside beside Mother Ocean, and thank her for air, climate, bounty and beauty.
Posted by Deborah Streeter at 6:44 AM