A few weeks ago, my feelings toward bats were not up to reasoned par. I was not enjoying my walks down the street in the evenings, with them flapping and flying over my head. I didn’t know why. I had no informed and reasonable excuse for this.
But, at some point in the past few weeks, I remembered where I came from in Indiana, and that’s when my attitude began to shift.
One of my most memorable experiences as a child was going on night hikes, guided by Al Parker, at Camp Olivet.
Al is a conservationist, and was instrumental in helping to bring back the Bald Eagle to the Ohio Valley area, back in the 80s and 90s. He wrote about his experiences in recovering birds of prey in his book, A Hope For Wings. (It’s an excellent and fascinating book. If you’re interested in a copy, I’ll send one to you – first one, first and only served. Just leave a comment – or reply back to this email if you’re reading this through Substack.)
We were privileged to have him and his family as members of our church for a while in Bloomington, Indiana. And every summer, when I was a kid and went to camp, he led all of us kids on a night hike. We learned about the wonders of the creatures of the night, especially Barred owls.
Generally, because of his attitude and the way he taught us about nature at night time, he helped to dispel my fear of darkness, night, and noises and creatures of the night. And so, that’s where I come from. I come from the guidance of Al Parker. When I remembered this a few weeks ago, that’s when courage took flight on the inside of me and began to lift me toward confronting that which was unfamiliar to me.
The below poem describes this experience of uncertainty with bats, and my eventual “facing” them.
Flittering and fluttering above me,
small shadows flap wild into my path.
Instinct, or my nerves, say, "Vermin. Nasty."
I flinch, duck, then clap loud, express my wrath.
Now they flinch. I clap more, with vengeful laugh.
But they're not birds, don't easily disperse.
They persist, these flittermice, these dark goths.
I pass by, look back, with feelings averse
slightly toward myself and why should I curse
creatures of night? I learned better than that.
Yet I go on, insist on ignorance.
At end of street, I turn back, face bats.
They're still flapping, over street, overhead.
And I teeter between wonder and dread.
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