We were down to fewer than 500 hundred nesting pairs of our fierce national bird when it went on the Endangered Species List in 1967. The list acquired a comprehensive law protecting its members in 1973 -- say what you will, let it be remembered that this was a good thing Richard Nixon did.
The protection worked: today there are more than 10,000 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the Continental United States. I see them on most of my train trips along the Hudson River to upstate New York -- the river's a fish gold mine for them, and they patrol it from high in the sky, swooping down in an attack which is something to behold, and which must leave a fish not knowing what hit it.
Now the Bald Eagle will be removed from the list, something that doesn't happen to that many animals on it -- most of them continue their march toward extinction and, on one disconsolate day when nobody is around, the last individual crawls under a bush to die.
What must it be to be the last one? To find no one else in the world who knows what you know? What must it be to call and call for a mate and hear no answering call?
Human beings know something about that last one: many of us have called and called for love, to no avail. Wondered where to go to meet someone wonderful. Wondered if there is something repellent about us: What is it? Am I not beautiful enough? Not witty enough? Too financially strapped to find love? Many of us have longed to speak first and been too shy, and so nobody spoke, and the chance was lost.
But we are endowed with a quality that comes to our aid: we can expand our passionate search for love and companionship beyond the hope of being part of a mating pair. Our capacity for love can pour into many things: into a posse of friends, or one best friend, into art, into work that satisfies, and always into the experience of God and the servant community of the people of God that gathers around it.
Eventually, every individual passes from the scene, taking our feathers and our fur with us into the fecund earth. But we don't take our love with us. That stays here.
Speaking of love, I thank the many eMo readers who came to the Farm's aid this week from the bottom of my heart. I'm sorry that I seem to have included a flawed web address in my clumsy appeal: go to http://www.geraniumfarm.org/ and click on "ePledge," or use the snail mail address, The Geranium Farm, 387 Middlesex Avenue, Metuchen NJ 08840