Interspecies Hospitality

Ric has written of the Benedictine qualities of his canine companion, and the Psalms often depict animals gamboling about and rejoicing before God.  And of all the many events of this past week in my own life, the one that stands out the most just now concerns another interspecies encounter.

A young woman I know (one of my students) has a small turtle–about the size of the palm of her hand.  She told me this week that sometimes she lets the turtle run about, and if she is lying on her back and no one else is there, the turtle will climb on her belly and up to her chest and face, and slowly and repeatedly tap her nose with its own nose.

I find myself amazed that a turtle could recognize the face, let alone the nose, of a creature so much vaster than itself.  And that a tiny reptile could be fond of such a vast creature.  Can you imagine standing upon a giant that many times bigger than you, trustingly tapping its nose with your head?

I do not know who is being hospitable to whom in such an encounter, but I am always sure the Spirit of God is present when beings–human or otherwise–recognize one another across vast differences.

In this case, we can’t even speak of that recognition as one of “common humanity.”

Common creatureliness, perhaps?

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