Quote of the Day: In her Elegy for the Giant Tortoise, novelist Margaret Atwood chooses the slowest and humbles of all endangered or extinct creatures: “Let others pray for the passenger pigeon, the dodo …I will confined myself to a meditation upon the giant tortoise.” There are many reasons for her choice, but when I saw one of these soon-to-be extinct tortoise species nearly a half century ago, I was reminded that the elderly individual whom I sat next to was older than the democracy in my own country. It had outlived dictators on several continents, one whose people had feared that the tyrants would never go away! But on the scale of a tortoise’s lifespan, the evil ones had indeed been deposed.
Commentary: It has become abundantly clear that all of us on this earth could use a little of the tenacity, perspicacity and humility of the tortoise. To some extent, we understand very well why Jesus prophesied that “The last shall be first and the first last,” but many of us quietly wonder (or fear) whether that statement will refer to what happens to us, not just others! The Slow Church movement exemplifies efforts to model the way of the tortoise both as individuals and as communities of faith. It shows the faith communities need not join the rat race that succumbs to the notion that faster and more will inevitably be better for use and for the earth.
Suggested Action #8: As you do your walking meditation today, don’t try to measure your “achievement” by how fast or far you travel, but by how slow and attentively you travel.
Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote is a professed member of the Ecumenical Order of Franciscans, a graduate of the Living School, a conservation biologist, orchard-keeper and story-teller.