The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.
I believe we can all rejoice at the Supreme Court decision to allow the current health law to move forward. Though the new law is not perfect it will provide medical care to many who otherwise would not get it.
Please see the attached statement from the Washington Health Care Working Group of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community. Linda Hann Walling is the Executive Director. She spoke at COMISS two years ago, invited by John deVelder on our behalf. We have been and will continue to be supportive of that organization and the important work that it does.
-Raymond J. Lawrence
STATEMENT:Washington Health Care Working Group of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community
Raymond Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:37 PM
Given CPSP's recent launch of a sub-speciality certification in Hospice and Palliative Care , many readers of the Pastoral Report, especially those who did not attend the CPSP Plenary, will find Dr. Garner's presentation informative. Please pass this link on to your colleagues who are in the field who might want to consider CPSP's new certification (“Board Certified Clinical Fellow in Hospice and Palliative Care”) for those working in Hospice and Palliative Care as clinical chaplains. Also, those seeking Continuing Education Credits (CEU's) can contact Ken Blank for documentation.
Dr. Kimberly Garner is a staff physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is also an assistant professor of Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Garner is the medical director of the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Unit at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System which is a specialized intermediate unit which provides an interdisciplinary team approach in an inpatient setting.
Dr. Garner received a juris doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and a master’s of public health from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She received a B.S. in dietetics from Louisiana Tech University and her M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
-Perry Miller, Editor
PART II https://vimeo.com/44140793
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 9:52 PM
In the recent decade, public attention on the work of care for the terminally ill has greatly increased, largely through government funding of such work. The results have been the emergence of a subspecialty for physician, nurses, and now, pastoral care and counseling for such patients. The subspecialty is that of hospice or palliative care chaplain.
In response to the shift in public attention to the terminally ill, the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is now offering a certification for the specialist in that field. The title of that certification is “Board Certified Clinical Fellow in Hospice and Palliative Care” (FHPC). This will be a subspecialty credential for those first credentialed as Board Certified Clinical Chaplain (BCCC) and/or Board Certified Pastoral Counselor (BCPC). For abbreviated identification purposes, certified persons may use BCCC/FHPC or BCPC/FHPC.
CPSP Chapters will receive requests from candidates for this certification, and will review the request within the purview of the Chapter’s expertise. Some Chapters will obviously have no specific expertise in this field. Nevertheless, the Chapter will of course attest to the clinical pastoral expertise generally of the candidate. No consultant approved by the Certification Committee need be present for this subspecialty Chapter review.
The candidate for FHPC subspecialty certification will forward the application (available on the Documents page of our website at www.cpsp.org for certification, with the Chapter’s endorsement letter, and their fee payment, to the Hospice and Palliative Care Certification Committee for review. The Hospice and Palliative Care Review Committee will establish a review for the candidate, refer the request back to the Chapter for revision, or it may deny certification for stated reasons. Please refer to the CPSP Standards, Section 800. The one-time fee for this certification is $100.
The certifications decided by the Hospice and Palliative Care Review Committee will be forwarded to the Certification Committee, reviewed, and then be forwarded to the Governing Council for ratification.
Barbara A. McGuire, CPSP Registrar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 12:56 PM
It’s official. CPSP and the Graduate Theological Foundation are proud to announce their collaboration to offer doctoral programs in Clinical Pastoral Supervision. After more than a year of work in dialogue and preparation, the first class is scheduled to begin their studies with a week-long intensive in-residence session on Monday, August 13 at Codrington College, an Anglican seminary in Barbados. The foci of studies for this inaugural week will be group theory, group process and intercultural relations theory. At the conclusion of this week of studies graduate students and faculty will have achieved a level of group formation sufficient to carry them through their first year of academic work on-line via conferencing software. Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2012.
Design of these doctoral programs is centered on a core body of knowledge and practice in clinical pastoral supervision. The applicant may opt to pursue either a Psy.D. or a D.Min. degree to be awarded by the Graduate Theological Foundation, depending upon the focus of one’s interest. Holding a doctoral degree in one’s field is often a key element for professionals seeking employment in medical centers and other institutions.
Some applicants have already earned a doctoral degree in a related field, but need a course of study to ground them in the theory and practice of clinical pastoral supervision. A third option for these persons is the Advanced Professional Diploma in Clinical Pastoral Supervision to be awarded by The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. In each option, the applicant engages the core body of knowledge and practice in clinical pastoral supervision.
About Affiliation with GTF
CPSP is proud to collaborate with the Graduate Theological Foundation in offering these doctoral programs. GTF is “an ecumenical and interreligious institution providing advanced educational opportunities to practicing ministry professionals.” Its educational philosophy is an excellent fit for CPSP members who desire to integrate theory, theology and practice at higher professional levels. GTF enjoys a special affiliation with the Oxford University Summer Programme in Theology, Oxford, England, and with the Centro Pro Unione Summer Course, Rome, Italy.
Here in the United States, our new affiliation with GTF makes CPSP a “P.R.I.M.E. Site” along with twelve other institutions through which ministry professionals can pursue a specialized graduate degree. Extensive information about GTF applications, programs, faculty, affiliations and a student handbook is available on their website at www.gtfeducation.org.
About CPSP Faculty and the Application Process
The CPSP faculty for these doctoral programs include Rev. Cesar Espineda, Ph.D., Rev. David M. Franzen, Th.M., D.Min., Rev. Joel Harvey, Ph.D. and Rev. H. Mac Wallace, D.Min. The specialty of these doctoral programs is clinical pastoral supervision. Accordingly, one prerequisite for acceptance into these doctoral programs is that the applicant must be enrolled in, or must have completed, a clinical pastoral supervision training relationship. De facto, one’s supervisory training supervisor becomes an adjunct faculty member in the doctoral program and grants credit for completion of Clinical Practica courses (Units of Supervisory Clinical Pastoral Training).
Applications for these specialized graduate degree programs must be made simultaneously to GTF and CPSP. For more information and CPSP application forms please contact:
Dr. David M. Franzen
CPSP Doctoral Admissions
12 Winthrop Court
Durham, NC 27707
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:06 AM
The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy’s distinctive professional development opportunity, the National Clinical Training Seminar (NCTS), was hosted at the breathtaking Stella Maris Retreat Center, Elberton, NJ on May 21-22, 2012. This year’s theme: “Chapter Based Governance,” was timely and on point considering the discussion had at this year’s Plenary regarding the same (see Dr. Lawrence’s article in Pastoral Report dated April 9, 2012 for more details). Our host, Dr. Francine Hernandez, who is as gracious as she is beautiful, catered to our every whim and her energy and enthusiasm made the experience a most memorable one. The General Secretary, Dr. Raymond J. Lawrence, Jr., was also on site to lend his years of wisdom and experience to the process.
With over 50+ persons in attendance, the small group dynamic was crucial to the success of the seminar. There were nine small groups represented, all with dynamic and innovative leadership. Dr. Lawrence and other Diplomates directed the Supervisor in Training small groups. The small groups allowed for introspective reflection on both a professional and personal level. Participants were simultaneously teacher and student. The small group dynamic created a sacred space that allowed for breaking down of walls, the exposure of deficiencies and insecurities, and the rebuilding of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) without recrimination. The work presented in the small groups was then shared with the larger body during supervisory sessions which afforded the persons presenting the opportunity gain fresh insight and knowledge.
An acute critical analysis as to the way we govern ourselves as a collegial, professional community was much needed and NCTS was all too accommodating in this endeavor. Periodically, in the life of an organization, that organization must find ways in which to participate in contemplative and retrospective practices in an effort to stay relevant and relational. NCTS provided two opportunities to accomplish such a task: (1) presentations on “Chapter Based Governance”; (2) Tavistock Group Relation Seminar.
The presentations on “Chapter Based Governance” were presented by Dr. David Roth and Dr. Steven Voytovich. Dr. Voytovich’s presentation focused more on needed revisions to the governing documents of CPSP and chapter formation. A noteworthy point regarding chapter formation is that careful attention and consideration must be given to the need for indigenous Chapter life. Chapter formation does not happen in a vacuum and, therefore, when forming a Chapter, the sitz im leben must be an integral part of that process. We must encourage new Chapters to re-define and utilize the CPSP “standards” in ways that make sense for them and the community in which the Chapter is formed. One size does not fit all. In so doing, we hold true to the ideals of the CPSP Covenant.
Dr. Roth’s presentation focused on more on the structural issues and how expanded, chapter-based governance would work in CPSP. To that end, Dr. Roth proposed a five-tier system of Chapters: (1) The Chapter; (2) The Provincial Chapter; (3) The Governing Chapter; (4) The Plenary Chapter; and (5) The General Chapter. The terms and governance of each tier was delineated by Dr. Roth and the participants were afforded the opportunity to organize according to this proposed model. Dr. Roth postulates that by implementing this model of governance, CPSP will then begin to take seriously the premise that “…we place a premium on the significance of the relationships among ourselves.” This proposed model will afford the membership at large the opportunity to foster connectional relationships and to improve communication and accountability. For more information regarding Dr. Roth’s proposed governance model, your attention is directed to his article in Pastoral Report dated March 5, 2012 entitled, “The Future of Governance in the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy.”
What was once old is now new again. That statement holds true for the Tavistock Group Relations Seminar. Tavistock is a group relational method that originated with the work of the British psychoanalyst Wilfred R. Bion in the late 1940s. The basic premises of this methodology is that a cluster of persons become a group when, and only when, interaction between each other occurs, awareness of common relationships develop, and a common group task emerges. The members are seated in a spiral circle with no beginning and no end. No group leader is identified in this process. Everyone has a voice and all voices are heard. Tavistock proved to be a painful and uncomfortable experience for many of the participants. Emotions ran high, spirited discussion was had, and truth was spoken with a compassionate heart – even in the awkward silence. The participants were transformed from a collective of individuals to a “supportive and challenging community.”
As a relative new comer to CPSP, I had no idea what to expect at this event. However, I felt that it would be a learning experience if I would avail myself to the process. If there was ever any doubt as to the professional credibility of CPSP, all doubts have been removed. As with all endeavors, one must bring a posture of humility and a willingness to learn to the process (and CPSP is a process), then, and only then, can the process of “recovery of the soul” truly begin. NCTS-East was an empowering experiencing that called the participants to a higher level of accountability to God, to self, to others, and to the CPSP Process.
Missiouri L. McPhee, MACE, MDiv, DHL, DMin, ACC, APC
Pastoral Care Department
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:37 AM
Daisy Basiliano was a remarkable woman. She was a member of the theological faculty of the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Iloilo, and a clinical pastoral supervisor directing clinical training programs at CPU under the auspices of CPSP. I and others from CPSP have visited Iloilo in recent years and have been graciously hosted by Daisy and the University.
She has directed the clinical pastoral training program for the seminary for a number of years. She was wise beyond her years, and she was exceedingly gracious. Daisy battled cancer during the last several years of her life. She was indomitable. During my third and last visit to her program this past March she was physically a mere shadow of her former self. Cancer had ravaged her body until she was less than half her former size. Nevertheless she carried on energetically for several days of meetings and lectures that she had scheduled during my visit. Subsequently her body failed her, as her family reports. Daisy is irreplaceable. She was a great soul.
Posted are some of the photos taken in 2007, during my first visit. The photos show an impoverished village of rice field workers that were part of Daisy's mission.
The CPSP community has lost a great soul with the death of Daisy Basiliano.
Contact Raymond Lawrence, CPSP General Sectetary
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 9:20 PM
The Rev. Dr. William H. Deadwyler, a religious studies scholar and priest within Gaudiya Vaishnava Hinduism – and a special guest on the opening days of the 2012 CPSP plenary – spoke of applying to organizations Anton T. Boisen’s insights about individual psychopathology. Intriguingly, using Boisen’s 1936 chart that analyzed “Changes and Upheavals” in disturbed or bewildered patients, Deadwyler suggested that
one challenge is to maintain
perpetual revolution in an established institution,
another challenge is to maintain
very high membership standards while being very humane.
Paraphrasing Boisen, he suggested that that
in order for us to be frank and honest with one another
we have to be functioning within trusting, supportive relationships,
where we can be accepted and valued for our honest efforts
despite our inevitable failures.
Echoing the CPSP focus on fostering “the recovery of soul,” and paraphrasing Bhagavad Gita, Deadwyler in the past has written about “recovering the authentic self” – of regaining the “capacity to perceive G-d directly” “by being engaged in the Lord’s service.” Such purified and recovered souls are said to be “fully joyful”: “They neither hanker ['for gain'] nor lament ['for loss'].” They are said to “engage themselves in the highest welfare work of rousing sleeping souls from their nightmares.” Surely one can discern how these elegant words resonate with Boisen’s prophetic admonition that our task is “to disturb the consciences of men” and women so that they may turn “and be made whole” “before it is too late”.
It comes as no surprise that Dr. Deadwyler has been intrigued by the CPSP “Covenant” as well as its bottom-up governance through local chapters. He has had considerable experience juggling tolerance and encouragement with mutual accountability in helping to lead a major religious organization. While it will take considerable effort to open the North American Hindu seminary, hospice, and clinical pastoral chaplaincy that some of us are proposing, already it is clear that many thought-provoking dialogues lay ahead.
Dr. Deadwyler’s talk on March 25, 2012, in Pittsburgh, at a pre-Plenary workshop of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, was titled, "On Continuing the Project of Anton Boisen's Constructive Synthesis: Some Contributions from a Vaishnava-Hindu Tradition". Mostly an essayist, his best known works include the following:
“The Cure of Souls in Vaishnava Communities.” a taped 8-session seminar (1996) based on Anton Theophilus Boisen's The Exploration of the Inner World: A Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience (1936).
“Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya: The Inner Dialectic of the Divine Relativity.” The Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies. 2001.1(10):5-26.
“The Devotee and the Deity: Living a Personalistic Theology.” pp.69-87, in J. P. Waghorne, N. Cutler. Gods of Flesh, Gods of Stone: The Embodiment of Divinity in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.
“Saṁpradāya of Śrī Caitanya.” pp.127-140, in Steven J. Rosen. Vaiṣṇavism: Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gauḍīya Tradition. New York: Folk Books, 1992.
“The Contribution of Bhagavata-Dharma Toward a 'Scientific Religion' and a 'Religious Science'.” pp.366-380, in T. D. Singh, R. Gomatam. Synthesis of Science and Religion: Critical Essays and Dialogues. San Francisco: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1987.
Encounter with the Lord of the Universe: Collected Essays, 1978-1983. Washington, DC: Gita-nagari Press, 1983.
The chart referred to and handed out at the session is from Anton Theophilis Boisen, The Exploration of the Inner World … Chicago: Willet, Clark & Co, 1936, p.148 [reprinted, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1941, 1952, 1962, 1966;
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971].
The comment about “recovering the authentic self” occurs in Deadwyler, “The Nature of the Self: A Gaudiya Vaisnava Understanding”; presented at the Vaisnava-Christian Conference on January 20-21, 1996 at Buckland Hall, Powys, Wales; available multiple places on the web, including, http://soithappens.com/2008/08/19/the-nature-of-the-self-a-gaudiya-vaisnava-understanding/ ; the paraphrase is of Bhagavad Gita 18.54 as expanded upon in Srimad Bhagavatam.
The comment about “before it is too late” occurs in Boisen, “Evangelism in the Light of Psychiatry,” Journal of Religion.1927;7(1):76-80; pp 79,76.
Under the guidance of the Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference [HMEC] and the Hindu American Foundation [HAF], the pieces needed for a North American Hindu pathway into clinical pastoral chaplaincy are being assembled.
Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can use the PR's search engine found on the left side-bar to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by clicking here.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:43 PM
The first ones we saw were resting in the shade of an acacia tree. The driver had spotted them, a skill that comes from years of experience. The dead giveaway, of course, is a lone tree around which are gathered a half dozen LandRovers: such a gathering will almost surely include lions. We drove up within twenty feet and stopped. Sure enough there they were, two of them, a male and a female, lying motionless except for their sides heaving in the heat.
At once there was the usual flurry of tourist activity -a search for binoculars, a memory card lost, jockeying for position to get the best view accompanied by gasps of amazement at being this close to animals of which we have heard so much. Indeed you can see their eyes and count their whiskers.
For all the majesty of the lion, the image portrayed in TV documentaries and elsewhere, close up the picture is a little different. True, the male with his mane and great head cuts a majestic pose. Even without a roar the title King of Beasts suits him well.
And the female has that sleekness, that pussycat look about her that sells cars to men and suggests how real women walk. But here in the heat of the Serengeti they look dusty, hot and as uncomfortable as I am. Maybe even bored with the whole carry on, strutting and roaring reserved for some other time and place.
Here and there on their bodies bits of hide are missing, scars that have healed, signs of the battle waged for survival. A lion must eat regularly, that is, track down and kill a zebra or impala or some other form of wild life two or three times a week. These two lions alone, therefore, represent a fair bit of killing and no small amount of struggle. Later we would see a pride of 15 lions, a sight that sets one to calculating the number of zebras needed for dinner. Given the demand for food and the ongoing battle with rivals for territory, both two legged and four, the life span of a male lion averages about 12 years. Survival here in the wild is by no means assured.
After a time the female of the pair gets up, takes a leisurely stretch and walks past, not ten feet from the LandRover, treating us all with utter disdain. We may as well have been in Saskatoon although I am sure she would have had us for lunch had we ventured out; we took her picture instead.
Such are the lions -living on the edge, displaying pride and independence and a kind of indifference that gives one pause for thought.
The others had “gone on safari”, out into that scorching space called the park and I, unable to think of enduring more heat and the comforts of a LandRover, had settled down under a tree with my binoculars and coffee to pass the morning.
I scan the landscape hoping that by some outside chance I might spot a giraffe, maybe an elephant. If all else fails a zebra. Nothing moves save heat waves rippling in the morning air. I am about to give up and retreat to my tent when I notice it –a black ball about the size of a quarter not twenty feet in front of me moving ever so slightly. I decide to have a closer look.
Kneeling in the sand I turned the ball over to discover on the underside a beetle: I have come upon a dung beetle moving a turd, or to be somewhat less crude one could say I have found a beetle in the process of moving her house -pantry, maternity suite and living room all rolled into one.
As I watch she pushes the ball an inch or two, then scrambles over the top and begins pulling, moving the ball another inch. And so goes the push/pull dance of a dung ball and beetle down a path.
As insignificant as the beetle appears, and as unmentionable as is the material with which it works, there are countries -Egypt for instance -where the beetle goes by the dignified name of scarab and enjoys a place of respect, replicas carved of it in wood and stone for sale to tourists. Such a carving was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. I read somewhere of another species who can pull a dung ball 1,141 times its own weight, the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. Furthermore, dung beetles are a whiz at engineering, moving dung balls always in a straight line, orienting themselves by the position of the sun and moon, making all moves with absolute efficiency.
A friend says I have a mind for such things, for dung beetles and such. Possibly. Or maybe it’s that I’ve been out in the heat too long. Whatever the case, I am impressed.
How did this beetle come by such -we can’t quite bring ourselves to say intelligence, that’s reserved for us –rather how did he or she come by such ingenuity, instinct? Surely the journey has been a long one.
A few hundred miles away lies the Olduvai gorge, a site, like others in Africa, where there has been found remains of many forms of wildlife as well as the bones of our ancestors, beings in the process of making the transition from animal to human, from ape to homo sapiens. How long ago? One, two, three million years; with each discovery the time line extends further and further back. Indeed, the change was so gradual it is totally imperceptible as a single event. Only the cumulative evidence of hundreds of thousands of years gathered from many sources can measure the slight change in bone structure or brain capacity that qualifies a creature to be classified as human rather than ape. What is also clear is that there have been various beginnings, off shoots of creature development, beings with some of our characteristics which qualified them as human but who passed into oblivion. One writer puts the total at 22, perhaps more will be found, the number of branches in our family tree, that is, beings with some human attributes but whose lineage comes to an end.
At first you want to say it was a kind of false start at being human. If you are of religious bent you might say God is practicing until God gets it right -and still has a way to go. Poetic thinking but not entirely indicative of the process at work.
Could it also be that creation then, as now, has limits, beginnings and endings. In the case of our distant ancestors, the 22 branches who made it for some thousands of years and are no more, something occurred to which they could not adapt -the food supply diminished, the weather changed, competitors got the better of them -and they could not make the adjustment until one day they were no more and another line, more efficient, more adaptable emerged. Our branch on the tree continues -for the time being -twenty-third in line, so to speak, but hardly assured of the throne.
What of dung beetles? How long has it taken them to get here? How many beginnings came to an end? How long did it take to learn to move a dung ball a hundred feet and make of it a home? No one knows for sure and if anyone claims to know, wait awhile and the time frame will shift. What we are sure of is that it has taken the lowly dung beetle a very long time to get here. Moreover, their lineage has at least as good a chance at survival, maybe better, than our own.
As much as any animal giraffes have adapted to their surroundings, finding their own niche in a crowded world. One of nature’s many oddities, they shouldn’t be here but they are.
One morning I found myself sitting alone in the “lounge”, an open-air tent set up in the middle of the camp with a sand floor and some soft chairs and a sofa and, on occasion, a hint of a breeze. The night before the whole contraption had blown down in a fierce thunderstorm. Generally at home you can see a thunderstorm coming, a bank of dark cloud rising up in the west with slashes of lightning and thunder with a crack to it. The storm the night before had been a wild affair; it didn’t seem to come from anywhere, but was suddenly just there, thunder and lightning on all sides with wind and sheets of rain. For a time we wondered about our tent. The open air shower and toilet at the back were flooded. But then it was gone, nothing more than a rumble or two somewhere in the distance. And for a little while it had been deliciously cool. Now the heat is back and I am reduced to studying the landscape, particularly some acacia trees nearby, the tallest maybe twenty five feet high, lush green with a kind of umbrella look to them, a shape that makes them a favorite gathering place for zebras and other wildlife seeking respite from the heat.
Today I spot nothing and am about to give up when something peculiar catches my eye, something absurd -a face peering out at me from the upper levels of the acacia. And a peculiar face it is, one with features somewhat akin to a cow, a teenage cow with a silly, quizzical half smile -a look that seems to say what are you staring at? Then I notice the rest of the picture camouflaged in the midst of the trees -long legs and neck, distinctive patterned coat -a giraffe munching her way through lunch. She goes on about her meal ignoring me.
Standing, a male giraffe can reach up to 18 ft. or more high and weigh over 3000 pounds. For a large and ungainly animal –their neck and shoulders seem too large for the rest of the body threatening a front end roll over -they move with a distinctive precision and beauty, great long necks towering above the foliage, somehow the bottom half of their bodies at a gallop while the upper level seems to float.
The giraffe’s exceptional height, a result of long legs and an even longer neck, allows it to forage on acacia high above all competitors, with a view of the surrounding countryside and any possible predators, most notably lions and alligators.
One adaptation the giraffe has made to compensate for its peculiar anatomy is to develop a valve in its neck that closes when it lowers its head to drink, the valve controlling the amount of blood flowing away from the body. When a giraffe stoops to drink, however, it is these same legs and neck, essential to survival in some ways that can be his or her downfall. Giraffes must spread their legs in a kind of splayed fashion in order to reach the water, placing them at considerable risk, unable to see well and quite unable to react quickly, the very time when a lion or a crocodile will choose to strike.
But for all their peculiarities, it’s the elegance of the animal I admire, a grace of movement and something friendly in their demeanor, gentle. Then there’s that silly look on their face, staring at you with a childlike innocence from the heights of the acacia. Maybe they think what a strange looking animal; he shouldn’t be here but he is.
Evening comes and the LandRovers return leaving the creatures to what the night may bring. It’s then you hear your fellow tourists wondering if there will be a swimming pool in camp or making plans for a flight to somewhere else or asking what has happened to their third suitcase and it occurs to you that we take ourselves awfully damn serious. Having so much, all the wealth and comforts of home and suitcases full of stuff creates assumptions, breeds an unawareness, arrogance even; the lions and the dung beetles and giraffes and yes, the wart hogs and the hippos and all the rest, don’t give a damn. Your cameras and your Tilleys and your suitcases they treat with a refreshing indifference.
Add to it all they are still here, these magnificent beasts and lowly creatures, not yet all shot or run off or gathered up and locked away, pacing up and down in a zoo or stuck to a wall with a pin. Without a road or a mall or a new development they continue. And the dung beetle, at least, in all probability will continue long after my lineage has petered out. But that’s not the end of it.
Strangely, unexpectedly there can come in the midst of it all a feeling of being detached, unhooked shall we say. Washed. For a little while at least you are rid of something. Like walking alone on the prairie on a spring morning and you hear one meadowlark, time where you can see and hear again and know where you belong.
Ron Evans is a CPSP Diplomate living in Saskatchewan, Canada is a a published author. He has frequently presented his poetry and prose at meetings of the CPSP Plenary as well as contributed articles for publication in the Pastoral Report.
The following are two of his recent book publications:
Below are several of his articles published on the PR:
To contact Ron Evans, click here.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 1:26 PM