Understand, I am always trying to figure out
What the soul is,
And where hidden,
And what shape-
And so, last week,
When I found on the beach
The ear bone
Of a pilot what that may have died
Hundreds of years ago, I thought
Maybe I was close
To discovering something-
For the ear bone
Is the portion that lasts longest
In any of us, man or whale…
And I thought: the soul
Might be like this-
So hard, so necessary-
Yet almost nothing
The gray sea
Was opening and shutting its wave-doors..
I looked but couldn’t see anything
Through its dark-knit glare;
Yet don’t we all know, the golden sand
Is there at the bottom,
Though our eyes have never seen it,
Nor can our hands ever catch it.
Lest we would sift it down
Into fractions, and facts-
And what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
Truly I know
Our part is not knowing,
But looking, and touching, and loving,
Which is the way I walked on,
Through the pale-pink morning light.
Today I have a talk at the International Congress of Conservation Biology for a workshop on Religion and Conservation. I spoke of how avian conservation is a living religion, and others spoke of Christianity, Tibetan Indigenous faiths, and Islam as mechanisms to conserve nature. Here was this room of people, trying to figure out how to harness the soul for the good life. There was some tension about the various ways we look at “soul” and “god” and “spirit,” in the room, or perhaps better said, I just know there was suspicion in the air. How can there not be when for thousands of years our kind has tried to tell another what is a soul and how to save it. What if it is really just this simple. We cannot know much, but we can love. It reminds of a line in the Forest Gump movie. He says, “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” Maybe all we professionals in conservation and religion can just let go of all the complexity of theology and figuring out the best way to save the world, and embrace the simplicity of loving. I should like to follow my own advice.
Could you live your life based on just love?