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Earth Etude for Elul 20: Unfinished Blessing

by Bill Witherspoon

We were supposed to name all the animals.

Lately we have gotten pretty good at it,

While it begins to dawn on us that

Even that slender branch of the tree of life

(Let alone the one on which crawl the slime molds,

Or the branch dotted with archaea microbes that turn salt ponds pink

Or the one spread with green life that converts sunlight into food)

Is just too prolific for words.

Still, 500 animal species named since last Elul

(150 of them the beetles of which She is “inordinately fond”)

Is kind of impressive for an ape that, according to Earth time

Only dropped from the fruit trees day before yesterday.

Maybe we can be a blessing on creation, singing hallelujah

With the answer machines in our palms.

If, in this season of turning to look at ourselves

We admit that our archery is wide of the target

That it is time to ask directions

of the keepers of indigenous knowledge

How were we managing to keep it going

For thousands of generations?

Bill Witherspoon is a geologist-educator and for 20 years a Jew by choice. At Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, he sings in its remarkable chorus and occasionally leads services. He is a native of East Tennessee where he was blessed with many visits to its huge national park throughout his formative years. Bill encourages fellow humans to check out Citizens Climate Lobby.

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