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Believing

BELIEVING
by Ruth Minshull

My friends were visiting me at the Gulf front condo in Florida where I was spending my winter vacation.  We were standing on the deck admiring the glittering emerald green sea and the dazzling white sand, when I told them, “Sometimes we see groups of dolphins go by, right out here in front of the place.” “Really?” the husband responded with interest. “Yes.  They come quite close to the shore too.  There might be just a few of them, but occasionally I’ve seen as many as 40 or 50 spread out over a half-mile or so.” “Amazing.  I wish I could see that,” he said. “Maybe I should call them for you.  They might come by.”

They both laughed.  “It would be nice if we could do such things,” his wife said.

“Well, I try it now and then,” I said, “and I’ve had pretty good luck.  They don’t always show up, but they come just often enough to make me wonder if they could be responding to my thoughts.  I believe I heard somewhere that they might be telepathic.”

“Uh huh,” he murmured.  They were both looking at me as if they thought I had a serious gap in my personal ozone layer.  I could almost hear them thinking, We’d better humor her.  She could be dangerous.

I dropped the subject, which seemed to give them a great deal of relief.  We went in and dressed to go out to dinner and no one mentioned it again.

They left the following morning, and an hour later the dolphins came–a group of ten or fifteen.  I stood on the deck and admired them as they  undulated slowly along the shoreline.  As always, I was thrilled to see these delightful aquatic acrobats–although I was sorry my friends had missed the sight.

I started thinking about my visitors.  Quite religious people, they wouldn’t miss a Sunday service.  But faith is a peculiar business, I realized.  It’s quite selective.

My friends have no trouble believing that they can talk with God–and that He listens.  But they can’t conceive of the idea that I might be able to communicate with the dolphins.  I can’t say I blame them.

There are many notions that require our belief, rather than our acceptance of provable facts (math, science, etc.).  The older I get, the less inclined I am to embrace ideas that demand that I believe in them.  In most cases I simply don’t–notions such as angels, flying saucers, channeling,  honest politicians and diets that work.

But if I were going to believe in intangible, unprovable matters, I would embrace every religion, because we need the sense that there is a grand design, that someone is in charge.

I would believe in reincarnation because it comforts me, because it presumes that I am a spirit (not that I have a spirit), that I am immortal and that only this body is temporary.  And death would not be serious, but merely a pause to change costumes before the next scene begins.

And I would believe that dolphins are telepathic and would come because I called them.
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©  Ruth Minshull 2013

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THE BLUE HERON
By Ruth Minshull

Impatiently, I punched the OFF button and turned away from the television. Too much bad news, I thought. There must be some good things happening in the world.

I stepped out on the deck of the Florida condo where I was staying. The sun, low on the horizon, spread its gleaming, image across the surface of the Gulf. I decided to take a short walk on the beach before night moved in. It had been a gorgeous autumn day, with a soft breeze gentling the brilliance of the water. An artistic arrangement of wispy clouds promised a spectacular sunset.

Despite the fact that hundreds of people lived in nearby buildings, I was the only person on the beach. I suppose they’re all preparing for dinner, I concluded. Whatever the reason, I welcomed the uncommon solitude.

I strolled west, hoping to see the blue heron. I had walked the beach many evenings around this time, and had often seen him (or her) standing in the same place. I didn’t know why he was always there, but I always felt a thrill at the sight of this majestic bird.

When I reached the location, I scanned the entire area, but failed to see him. Well, maybe the heron has changed his agenda, I thought. Disappointed, I started to turn back. Then I saw him. He was standing so still in the dusky twilight–his long pale legs blending in perfectly with the background of white sand and sea grass–that he was nearly invisible.

Thrilled at the encounter, I remained motionless as we gazed at each other–I with pleasure, he with guarded tolerance.

Our confrontation was interrupted by the sound of a sliding door. The heron turned expectantly as a man stepped out onto the second-floor deck of a nearby condo. With practiced care the man flung a small fish out over the railing. The heron caught it expertly and flapped off a short distance to gulp it down. Soon the bird returned; the man came out again and threw another fish. This time the heron grabbed it and flew off. The provider went inside and closed the door. Obviously this ended a nightly routine.

On my returning walk. I was bouyed by a sense of well-being. It was gratifying to know that here in this unremarkable place on the coast, an elegant feral creature had worked out an agreeable dinner arrangement with an alien life form.

I thought of my impatience with the newscaster earlier. Such diligent purveyors of bad news seldom tell us that between New York and Hawaii, Miami and Alaska, many millions of ordinary American people go about their lives, sharing smiles, sharing potlucks, trusting each other, lending a hand, kissing away a tear, helping a child launch a kite, giving hugs of comfort, holding doors open, cooking therapeutic chicken soup, loving one another.

Of course, the newscasters can’t tell us about these people because they’re not shocking; bleeding or dying.

But it helps to be reminded, now and then, that there are heartwarming events going on around us–if we look for them in the right places.

One such place is outside a certain condo on the Gulf coast, at dusk.

(c) Ruth Minshull 2013

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