Deacon-structing New Life

April 5, 2015
New_Life
It is not hard to find images of new life everywhere to highlight the joy and Good News of Easter - especially in this part of the world in at springtime! (Maybe these bunnies are a bit too much, but you get my point - and they are cute.)
But recently, I've been doing quite a bit of traveling that has also been a constant reminder to me that our world- our fallen world, with all its suffering and brokenness- is full of life and that life is being made new all the time.
And so, this week, and for the next couple of weeks, let me “deacon-struct” new life: not to "take it apart", but to reflect on that gift that has been granted to all humans: the gift to begin again.
One of my favourite canticles from Scripture is commonly known as the Canticle of the Three Youths or the Canticle of Daniel. It is, according to Daniel 3:57-88, 56, one of the “songs” sung by the three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Ananias, Azarias, Mishael) as they were in the furnace that King Nebuchadnezzar had thrown them in. It is a beautiful song of praise to God: "Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord – praise and exult him above all forever!” The canticle names all the creatures who praise the Lord: “angels of Lord, sun and moon, stars of heaven, shower and dew, ice and snow, nights and days, lightning and clouds, mountains, hills, seas and rivers, beasts wild and tame; all creation bless the Lord, praise and exult his name above all forever!”
This Canticle is sung with Morning Prayer at every Solemnity and so we are praying it daily throughout the Easter Octave. I have been praying it in a special way since we began working on Creation, a six-part series that will look at the Church’s Ecological teachings. Filming for Creation has taken us all over North America and we have seen “all creatures” and we have also seen “all creatures bless the Lord.”
Many of the stories we are telling in Creation are stories that show how we must care for God’s Creation. Sometimes our care for Creation is not what it should be; we are not the stewards or caretakers that God intended us to be from the beginning. When we don’t respect Creation or don’t live in the balance between the Natural and the Human Ecology, it sometimes leads to death. That is part of the fallen-ness of Creation. But when we do respect Creation, when we live in the balance and harmony, it is very much life-giving.
And that is the Good News of Easter.
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One place that we visited which is full of new life is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, FL. It is a fascinating place.
PedroBlog2
You may have heard about CMA since this is the place where both Dolphin Tale films were made. The films tell the story of Winter and Hope, two dolphins who were orphaned at a very young age and the stories are based on this facility. In fact, Winter and Hope are real dolphins who still live at CMA.
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Clearwater Marine Aquarium is not a typical aquarium. You will not find a “dolphin show” here. CMA is primarily a rehab hospital for animals. Animals are rescued and brought here for rehabilitation and hopeful release back into the wild. In some cases, if the animal is not able to survive in the wild, they are able to stay at CMA or are taken to live at another facility that can care for them.
Turtle in Surgery
CMA is also an educational institution. Every day hundreds of children come through the facility – many school groups come too. During a visit, you may have the opportunity to watch while they do surgery. When we were there they were working on a turtle.
Winter
Winter is the protagonist of both films. "Dolphin Tale” is the story of how she lost her tail and survived against all odds. This story is the one that has made CMA famous. It is also a story that has moved so many people. It is truly a story of new life – not just because of how Winter survived against all odds, but because of what she is now giving back to all who come to see her. Daily, people with various disabilities and challenges, war veterans and amputees, come to see her and are inspired by her will to live and to help give meaning to others.
Hope
There are three resident dolphins at CMA. Hope is another dolphin who was found when she was very young. Here she is being fed after a training exercise. Hope was introduced in Dolphin Tale 2.
Nicholas
Nicholas is the only male of the three dolphins. Young people can come to CMA to be "trainers for the day" and learn all about the animals, how to train them and how to care for them. You can see the white blotches on Nicholas' back. It is damage from sun exposure from when they found him as a baby.
Abby and Winter
Senior Trainer Abby Stone works with Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. When we interviewed Abby she said that she believes Winter knows that she is helping people. You see, Winter does not have a tail and so in order to swim as most dolphins she requires a prosthetic tail. She wears her prosthetic tail about 30 minutes every day for therapy purposes only. We had the chance to watch as Abby worked with Winter and her "tail".
Being at CMA was truly inspiring. Despite the secular environment, I was brought very deeply into the Mystery of God’s Creation. We are all Creation and we are all to live in harmony with each other– being at CMA truly helped me understand that not just humans and angels bless the Lord, but also flowers and trees, stars of heaven; birds of the air and beasts wild and tame; all the earth blesses the Lord. Even "dolphins and all water creatures bless the Lord" (Daniel 3:79).
 
Canticle of Daniel
Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord;
You heavens, bless the Lord;
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.
All you hosts of the Lord; bless the Lord.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord;
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;
All you winds, bless the Lord.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord;
Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord;
Frost and cold, bless the Lord.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord;
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness bless the Lord;
Lightning and clouds, bless the Lord.
Let the earth bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord
Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.
You springs, bless the Lord;
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord;
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.
All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
You sons of men, bless the Lord;
O Israel, bless the Lord.
Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;
Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;
Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Ananias, Azarias, Mishael, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost;
Let us praise and exalt God above all forever.
Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven;
Praiseworthy and glorious forever.
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Photo: Public Domain
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