Member Update December 2019.

“Too many people are standing around waiting for a hero to appear… You must rid yourself of the idea that only one person knows, and understand that genius might be manifest in one man or one woman in a particular moment, but that the quality of genius that characterizes humanity is actually possessed by the community.” Barry Lopez

Last week, a Nankeen Night Heron arrived at the CERES dam. Its presence caused much excitement among people. There was discussion about its official name. Was it sick or lost? What did it eat? Was it male or female or juvenile? Could it be photographed from a distance with an iPhone? (No)…  Mostly people gave up trying to categorise and photograph, and were content to sit quietly looking at Nankeen in the dappled morning sunshine, feeling gratitude for the visit.

Environmental writer Barry Lopez, like so many other storytellers of our time, says that we need a new story that doesn’t revolve around the heroics of an individual. Those stories have incredible power and have been useful, but it’s time for something new. He says the natural world is where we find the kinds of stories that can be a blueprint for our times. For example, look at how murmurations of starlings create beautiful, complex, geometric patterns across the sky. How do they do it? It’s not by one leader bird giving instructions. Each bird looks to the birds immediately around them and co-ordinates their movements, deferring when necessary to the knowledge of the group.

So what story did Nankeen bring us, in his stooped and humble way? He is one bird but he represents in his being, the innate wisdom of all night herons and all birds. We each offer our individual actions in the unfolding story of humanity, but we don’t need to wait for a hero to make the changes that are needed. We know what to do.

As we gather with friends and family over the festive season, the experience of loving and being loved, of preparing and sharing meals, and of travelling and exploring together reminds us that we innately know how to connect to one another and tap into the genius of common unity.

E-News Editor & Narrative Director

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