Elephants have been in the news recently. African elephants, dying by the thousands so the sale of their tusks can purchase arms and ammunition for rebel forces in Sudan. Much of the ivory makes its way to China, where prices are high. Just one more example of the way we are out of harmony with each other, and creation. Salmon, pandas, whales, elephants, canaries in the mine….
One of my favorite stories of our interconnection appears in a small book by Martin Bell called The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images, published by The Seabury Press (New York, ©1968). The story is titled, “What the Wind Said to Thajir.” Thajir is a young boy who, more than anything else, loves to walk in the wind. One day, he was surprised to hear the wind speak to him (a still small voice?). The wind began cautiously, affirming that everything that is, is good. Impressed with the receptiveness and understanding of the boy, the wind continued to share secrets about the way in which all life is interconnected. Eventually, it was time for the boy to return home. He and the wind spoke their “good-byes.”
The story continues…
“That night, Thajir’s mother reads him a story about elephants. After she had finished reading the story, she asked him what he remembered about it. Thajir said it was most important to remember that whatever hurt elephants hurt him, and that whatever helped elephants helped him. He added that at the center of things, life belonged to life, and this meant that he and elephants shared in the same experience and were somehow united with one another. He went on to say that it was good to be an elephant, and it was good to be Thajir.”
Thajir’s mother was a wise woman, and she did not question her son. She closed the book, and tucked him into bed. But as sleep overtook him, she felt tears flood her eyes. “What will become of my boy?” The innocence of childhood. Of elephants, and whales… What will become of all of us?
Gracie is the “unity and diversity” traveling evangelist for the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ.