Biological Diversity

Today, a group of special needs adults came to the Wehr Nature Center for a field trip.  They saw a puppet show about how animals survive the winter.  We passed the puppets among them to let them meet the characters before the show.  Afterwards, we passed some real animals around, a box turtle and a snake named Fancy, for them to touch “with one finger”.   Then, we divided the group in half and went outside.  Those that were more ambulatory took a walk around the nature center, the others sat up on the observation deck overlooking the pond.  This was a very diverse group, and I couldn’t tell what they were noticing or taking in.  We tried to point out things that they could see, hear, touch, or smell (we didn’t dare do any tasting!).  Some of them were pretty absorbed by their own selves and other people in the group.  Some were able to engage at times in what was around them on the path.  One man, Charlie, pointed up to a tree covered with Virginia creeper vines that had turned red and just started laughing!  He was so excited!  I loved that reaction.  That made my day.  Lester spent the time pointing out behaviors in the group or hiding behind people.  He held my hand for a while on the trail.  When we all congregated on the observation deck, he introduced some of his friends to the staff, one by one.  Finally, we got them all loaded back on the bus and waved good-bye.  There were 30 in all, including 2 in wheelchairs.  Most were men.  All the caregivers were women.

This made Charlie laugh

I am grateful to have been reminded that biological diversity includes every species and every variation in the species, including ours.  Respecting and including all of life is an exercise in awareness every moment of every day.  I want to be able to be gracious and friendly to every living thing I encounter, and I want to put myself in a position to encounter a wide variety.  I suppose that is my desire for my own edification, but I think that it is advantageous for everyone and builds tolerance and peace in the world.  Observing people in nature is interesting.  Some of the volunteers were talking about kids who react negatively to things in nature.  One girl got very agitated and upset over the sticker-burrs that were clinging to her sweater after a hike.  It makes you wonder how unfamiliar she must have been with the outdoors.  We are often scared by things that are unknown.  As we understand things better, we are able to be more compassionate.  Steve’s favorite Bible verse is “For God so loved the world…” and he stops there.  God loves the world.  Steve loves the world.  What would be the result if more people learned to love the world and taught their children to do the same?  “And it was very good.”

I love Turtles

I love the colors and textures under my feet

2 thoughts on “Biological Diversity

  1. Love this post. I work for five departments in a non-profit mental health agency; the department that I spend the most time with serves developmentally disabled adults who are also severely mentally ill. The diversity within that group of clients is tremendous, and a daily reminder to appreciate each living being for what it is. I am repeatedly floored by the generosity, grace, and compassion I witness here.

    How lucky that you had a chance to see nature through “disabled” eyes, and how beautiful that you recognized the value of your opportunity. That’s a rare gift indeed.

  2. following your blog is a delight, every entry compassionate, erudite, well written. Why is it I’m not moved to comment until I want to quibble? Blame my upbringing or my contrary mindedness. Anyway, I was struck by the little girl who hated those clingy & unwanted sticker burrs that were invading her personal space. It is a huge assumption, one I wouldn’t make, that she was unfamiliar with the outdoors. I know kids who freak out about the seams on socks and they wear socks every day of their lives. The sensitivity of children’s nervous systems is a phenomenon in itself and worthy of the awe you give the rest of nature. I know you know that, given how much of your life you have put into soothing them.

    Don’t let me interrupt your beautiful flow of prose. Just smile to yourself a little knowing that I am here reading it and appreciating your response to life, even as mine may twist off at another angle to give me another perspective.

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