Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sparrows and Snappers and Sting Rays

Yesterday, we finally made it back to the reef.  I had begun to think we might never SCUBA dive again.  The last dive we took was in 2011 which I wrote about in this post.  In 2012, we had a dive scheduled, but my spouse had such severe back pain that we had to cancel--that was one of the events that let me know how bad his back had gotten.  In 2013, we were buying a house, moving, and selling a house, so we missed all sorts of opportunities.

But yesterday, we finally got back to the world below the surface.  For more on the trip itself, see this post on my creativity blog.

I am happy to report that the reef looked healthy, as did the fish.  We don't always see that situation.  We have been diving when the coral has been banged up, either by careless divers or by careless boaters or by hurricanes, which take carelessness to a whole different level.

But yesterday, we saw lots of fish of all sizes and coral that looks whole.  Hurrah. 

Diving always puts me in a spiritual frame of mind.  I am amazed at our creator, who shows such care with such a variety of landscapes.   I thought of Bible passages that remind us that God keeps count of every sparrow.  I assume that God keeps track of every snapper, every sting ray, every creature of every sort.  And dives remind me of how many creatures there are.

At one point I looked out and there was a shimmering curtain of yellow fish, as far and wide as I could see.  I said a quick prayer of appreciation and gratitude. 

Diving also makes me aware of my own body, of every breath, of every ability of my muscles to move in ways that make swimming possible.  If God had made only one creature as complex as the human, I would be in awe.  But to make such a vast variety of creatures and habitats.  Wow.

It's hard to dive without realizing the damage that humans are inflicting on the planet.  Yesterday, as in 2011, at the surface we swam through huge swarms of jellyfish. In some ways, they were beautiful, translucently blue as they floated by.  They were HUGE.  I've never seen jellyfish this big.  They weren't the smaller jellyfish you find in the Chesapeake Bay this time of year.  No, these jellyfish were the size of dinner plates, large dinner plates.

Jellyfish are an ominous sign for many reasons.  One is that they've never been as numerous as they have been this season.   Now that fact could mean that the currents are different, which would not have to be a big deal.  But the increase in jellyfish points to a decrease in the health of the oceans.  Jellyfish thrive in warmer waters than most creatures like, and the ocean temperatures have been breaking all records here.  You may recall that five years ago when I was diving/snorkeling, the temperature at Molasses Reef broke the previous record when it climbed to 91 degrees (I wrote about the implications here and here).  Since then, those temps have become a new normal.

We can argue about what's causing the rise in global temperatures, which leads to a rise in ocean temperatures and acidification.  I don't understand people who argue that warming, either of the seas or the air, isn't happening at all.  We have records going back a long time--it's a warmer planet that inhabit today, warmer than it's been in thousands of years, if we go strictly by human-kept records.  It's warmer than it's been in a longer time than that, if we want to trust what scientists tell us about the time before humans.

My Christian faith has trained me to live in hope, not in fear.  My Christian faith has trained me to expect resurrection.  My human existence has shown me that bleak situations can be redeemed.

I will continue to pray for the planet, as I pray for all who are distressed and under threat.  I often focus on humans when I pray, but after swimming through seas enswamped with jellyfish, I'm reminded to pray for our habitats too.


Anonymous said...

You seem to have a problem saying 'husband'. Why?

Kristin said...

I like to use gender neutral terms: for God, for my spouse, for times I talk about non-specific humans . . .