One of the highlights of students’ semesters here in Kaikoura (and for us staff too!) is the times we have been able to see and even swim with the local wild dolphins. Whether it is spotting them from shore or getting in a wetsuit or kayak alongside them, it’s an experience that leaves an impression. As part of a reflection written at the conclusion of the second week of the class “God and Nature,” Essie Fenstermacher (Houghton College, ’16) shared this reflection on a morning spent kayaking with dolphins:
Kayaking with Dusky Dolphins one early morning, I thrilled to watch their beautifully sleek, hydrodynamic bodies weaving in and out of the water beneath me. They swam mere feet from the kayak. The water was clear and still as glass; a window into the dolphin’s world. I listened to the distinctive sucking sound of the dolphins inhaling as they surface and became aware of my own breathing. In, out. The same air that filled their lungs filled mine – the same air as the gulls and turns soaring above me. Even the sea breathed; its gently heaving chest lifting my kayak in rhythm.
How am I to be priest of all of this? Am I to lead dolphins and birds in the praise of their creator?They know far more about living lives of worship than I do. Their very being glorifies Him. Then is it my (our) role to minister to them? Administer them the sacraments? Preach them the gospel? Let’s not be ridiculous. These wild animals already know God as much as they can. What is left to do? Am I to speak a blessing over them? Perhaps our relationship is this: we bless each other in the sight of God. “The Lord be with you,” I say to the dolphins gliding underneath me. They silently reply, “and also with you.” After all, we humans are the keepers of words. We give speech to the unending praise of creation. The birds sing and soar and the dolphins leap and dive, praising in ways we never could. Is our praise, joined together, somehow now complete?
Houghton College ’16