Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Otter's Prayer

The Otter’s Prayer

Let us pray.  We, the struggling Congregation of Southern Sea Otters, need some help here, dear God. 

We thank you God, that human beings have stopped slaughtering us for our fur as they did for centuries. 

But how long O Lord, will our congregation remain so small?  After more than 100 years of no slaughter, our membership is still less than 3000 of us in our whole range, which is just the Central Coast.  In the good old days there were over a million of us on the West Coast.   Like many other congregations, we are not growing at a sustainable rate.

We thank you God, that the water in which we live and move and have our very being, and where we each must find 20 pounds of food to eat every day, is cleaner, with less toxic stuff like urban, industrial and agricultural runoff than it used to have. 

But people still put lots of bad stuff in the ocean.   How long, O Lord, will our young adults disappear (die) at a rate greater than they should be (also like many other congregations)?   How long will moms have to struggle so hard to find food for their little ones?  (Sadly, otter fathers don’t really join in.)

We thank you God for the work of so many on our behalf, like The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Friends of the Sea Otter and The Otter Project and many others, for raising awareness and advocating for us and making this very week, the last in September every year, Sea Otter Awareness Week.

But how long O Lord, will we have to worry about getting tangled in deadly gill nets and fight with fisheries over where we can live?  How long will people have to stencil on storm sewers, “Flows to the sea, don’t dump your oil here”?  How long will people build over our estuaries and wetlands (75% of California’s are gone) when we love living in sheltered rich places like Elkhorn Slough?

We are sorry, dear God, that we, like humans, sometimes think we are a little special, that we are just below the angels, and deserve some extra attention.  I mean, we function both as a sentinel species (like canaries in a mine shaft, our diseases and challenges show others that things are bad out here) and a keystone species (without us the whole kelp forest habitat crashes, for the abalone and sea urchin that we eat will clear cut it).  This place would be lost without us. 

Plus we are the cutest damn creatures in all creation. 

But we are trying to be humble, O God, and ask only for our share.  We have heard you have a preferential option for the poor, for the least of these.  We could use some help.

When we pray, O God of all creation, we say “thank you,” and “We’re sorry.”  We cry out for “help” and we lament “how long?” 

O God (and people) in your mercy, hear our prayer.

On our Blue Theology service trips and pilgrimages in Pacific Grove we pray with and for all of God’s creation, including otters, and do our best to hear their prayers.  I post these “Tide-ings” each Wednesday here and at

Fabulous photo by the fabulous JR Sosky.

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