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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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November 4, 2005

Late fall along the lake

What a scene this morning—hundreds of Canada geese bobbing in the waves and honking as we got to the first stretch of Lake Michigan, just a block long, on our early walk. They hadn’t been there yesterday. They be gone tomorrow. We had to laugh, my husband and I. We certainly hadn’t seen this many geese when we went looking for them, just a few weeks earlier, at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin, which is a famed water fowl refuge.

The weather was mild, but the geese were on their way south. It made us muse, again, about the lecture we’d heard Saturday night by David Abram,  ecologist, philosopher and author of the book, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (Vintage, 1977). He fascinated us with his experiences in the wild and his encounters with creatures from spiders to sea lions. And he explored what their lives mean in relationship to ours, and ours to theirs in this one world.

Most basically, we breathe the same air. Consider, he said, the fact that the ancient Hebrews did not dare speak, nor later write, the name of God, but used the letters Y-H-W-H. Now breath these consonants, he invited us, Y-H as you inhale and W-H as you exhale. What is the air? he asked. Could it be God’s own self? And what would that mean for how we care for the air...and for all of creation?

Our son Dan went to hear Abram with us and bought the book. He’s reading it now, then will pass it along. Right now I’m just thinking about those geese.

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