An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of July 10, 2016
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruin, Yucatán, Mexico

Gulf Coast Fritillary on cosmos flower

"Do Not Sow or Reap"

Sitting beside the hut door reading, needing to rest my eyes, I looked up and saw a golden cosmos blossom glowing radiantly against the bright blue sky. At the same time a Gulf Coast Fritillary butterfly, also golden but with well-formed white streaks daintily outlined in black, suddenly glided onto the blossom and instantly, with quivering wings opening and closing, began probing the flowers with its slender, fragile proboscis, one tiny disk flower after the other. I stood up and took a picture of all this with the hut's roof in the background, shown at the top of this page.

Our human brains are wired so that certain combinations of stimuli habitually evoke specific memories or associations. It's exactly like Pavlov's dogs salivating when the bell rang, except that our responses tend to be a little more complex, but who knows? When I saw the orange blossom and butterfly so vividly alive and seemingly anxious to get their work done, the association that for less than half a second flashed through my mind -- and always flashes when I see things like that -- was a passage in the Bible, Mathew 6:26:

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them."

During my younger days when I was trying to come to terms with my spiritual needs, the moment I read that, I saw the true nature of sacred scripture. From that moment I felt free to move on in my spiritual development, for, even at that age, I was quite sure that if people didn't do some kind of sowing and reaping they'd get in a mess, and even birds of the air, butterflies and all other living things had to work hard for their food, and some birds even stored their winter supply in something like bird barns.

My later spiritual quest took many turns, even into atheism, but in the end a certain revelation slowly germinated inside, grew and blossomed, setting me on what seems now to have been the right path. Over time I came to recognize that Nature is so exquisitely complex, diverse, and beautiful, that at the very least there must be some kind of creative impulse that caused the Universe to exist in the first place, to function as it does, and to keep it evolving toward ever higher states.

No second revelation of this profound, life-changing character, however, has come to me. My decades of growing old have been occupied with daily confirming for myself the features of that first and only self-blossomed insight -- that there must be some kind of Universal Creative Impulse to account for all this glorious Creation, and that somehow to think about it all, and to reflect on my place in it, fulfills me in a certain way.

The Universal Creative Impulse is a poet, and all Nature -- and we humans are part of Nature -- is Her poem; we things are music the Creator expresses in terms of atoms and molecules, electromagnetism, energy and lots of other stuff interacting with one another in evolving, ever-more-sophisticated, ever-more-promising patterns.

So when I look up from reading, and see the beauty of the golden fritillary working so hard for nectar in flowers the plant has worked hard all season to bring to this exact moment of perfection, for half a second my childhood cultural programming summons that passage in Mathew, but then comes a much longer, happy time of simply watching the butterfly and plant being themselves..