My beautiful rescued Texas 3-toed box turtle, Bruce. His species is listed by the IUCN as “vulnerable.”

One Body, One Brain, One Heart, One Soul.

These were the words that arose within me during meditation this morning.

If you’ve been following along here for a bit, you have likely noticed me arm-wrestling with myself on how best to help the animals I so love.

It might not be such a problem if I didn’t keep watching all these documentaries and reading all these books by scientists and biologists and conservationists who document the beauty and wonder of the natural world and then remind their readers (aka me) how we are killing it all off.

But I keep watching the films and reading the books and filling up with all this knowledge, which now weighs very heavily upon me indeed.

I hurt every time I see someone flick a still-smoking cigarette butt onto the pavement (like the gal yesterday who was heading back from break to resume her shift at the natural foods store where I had just bought my groceries).

I wonder – does she know? Has anyone told her? If they did tell her, would she care?

This morning, the second wasp in two days somehow squeezed its gigantic, angry, venomous body in through some infinitesimal crack around my air conditioner and ended up in my tiny casa.  

Sure, my knee-jerk reaction was to grab the wasp spray (which thankfully I don’t own any of). The rational part of my brain – as well as my upper right thigh, which still bears the scar from one of the wasp’s equally ticked off cousins who stung me two years ago around this time – chanted “get it! kill it! squash it!”

[Just for the record, when I say “I love animals” I don’t mean all of them. Wasps don’t make the cut. Neither do mosquitoes, for that matter. Roaches….let’s not talk about it.]

No – here, I’m talking about the gentle, curious, magnificent animals – the ones with at least minimal social skills.

But thanks to the Dalai Lama and others of his compassionate kind, instead of automatically whacking that wasp seven ways to Sunday I went and got a soft kitchen towel, waited for it to land, nabbed it and then carried its furious, vengeful, buzzing self outside to the porch and released it.

After which I saw it fly right back up to the air conditioner to give it another go.

SIGH.

So when the words “One Body, One Brain, One Heart, One Soul” arose inside me in this morning’s meditation, it felt like a reminder, or a ray of hope, of some kind. Like….

Remember what Einstein said about how matter is neither created nor destroyed. 

Know that we (all of us formerly endangered and now extinct species) aren’t truly gone. Sure, we are gone from your planet, but we are still here. 

We are here in your body, because the matter that makes you is the same matter that made us. 

We are here in your brain, because – certain large prefrontal parts excepting – we share the same essential limbic brain system.

We are here in your heart, because you have not forgotten us. We are in a better place now, a safe place, and yet you you still mourn and you still remember and you now realize it can happen to any species at any time, even your own….

And we are here in your soul, because that energy that illumines you illumines us too.

I could feel them whispering to me – all the animals that are no more on this Earth plane because the planet just ran out of room and resources for them to co-exist with us – and I could feel them drying my tears and comforting me in my pain.

I could feel them thanking me for remember them, for not forgetting.

I could feel them reassuring me that this isn’t all we get – any of us – any being that is here now in this physical conscious realm we call “Planet Earth.” This isn’t the sole, sum reality available to those of us who yearn for something else, something deeper, something more.

There IS more. There is another chance for us to be together, and this time in a way that is peaceful and mutually respectful and genuinely curious and creative and fair and KIND.

I could hear their whispers, saying “extinction isn’t the end of our story….we didn’t end here….your kind didn’t extinguish our kind in the way that matters most….there is more.”

[And yes, at that point I did feel just a little bit like Luke Skywalker, fearing for the extinction of the Jedi Knights, as he listened to Yoda gasp out “there. is. another.”]

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t really know what any of this means.

I can’t verify if this was just a sub-conscious attempt on my part to ease my own pain, guilt, shame and awareness of the many unwitting parts I’ve played in creating a world that seems increasingly less hospitable to any of us.

I couldn’t ever prove that those whispers or those words truly came from the souls of extinct species, no more than I could prove that “The Force” from Star Wars is a real thing, not just a cool made-up thing that I wish was real from one of my favorite childhood films.

But I can at least choose what I believe, my frame of reference, my perspective.

And I, for one, believe there is more – more life, more love, more mentoring, more kindness, more fairness, more equity, more chances to get it right – than what we have right here, right now.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever had a moment, a dream, a meditation, a vision, an experience, that no way could you ever prove, but that just seemed to be just for you and important and REAL? If you told someone else and they downplayed it or tried to rationalize what you experienced, did that lessen your own belief in it? Why or why not?