My sister called my attention to this story yesterday. So many people have been moved by the actions of this orca whale that has tirelessly carried her dead calf for 17 days. Mothers who have lost children of there own have expressed their candidness of being able to relate to this desperate action of grief, and I would place myself amongst those who have experienced this. And as I just wrote the word, “desperate” it seems as though it might carry the connotation of being an unacceptable act. A better description might be, a “beneficial, or coveted” act of grief. I would have held my son’s body until I too was laid in the grave. Can you imagine for one minute encountering a mother who has recently lost a child and was going about her day with a dead child swaddled in her arms?! The societal norm would not allow this, in fact, the societal norm within America barely seems to allow one to grieve openly about the death of a loved one. My friends would question my sanity and have me medicated to “snap out it” and return back to life as I knew it! I am not the same though! I never will be! I covet the creature that has carried her newborn calf throughout the ocean’s mystical ways, and received only compassion and sympathy from those watching.
As I have read through several articles covering this story my thoughts have gone to so many of the details that are not being explored or discussed ...how this depiction of nature enables us to unravel the beauty of grief when it seems unbearable to carry; how this creature that does not speak can move the human heart to explode with compassion; how this creature is being sustained despite the concerns of scientists; and how ultimately all of creation cries out in desperate need of rescuing.
The “family” of this whale, orca J35, has aided in carrying her calf. They have shared in her longing to keep it close. What an image! I have experienced this as my family held our child and grieved with us; as my dearest friend in life held my child in her arms as though it was one of her children, and wept the loss alongside me. The Word says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
How incredible to witness this in God’s creation. Carrying one another’s burdens so close to your own heart that you are able to provide relief because of your willingness to struggle alongside them as they learn to live with pain. It seems like an oxymoron to call it beautiful, but it is. Just like so many have been drawn to this image and story of this bereaved whale, what might be more impactful is the image of the other whales willing to come alongside her and carry her tragic load. Isn’t that what Christ did for us? Isn’t that what He calls us to do for others. I have been humbled by those who have come alongside me and willingly shared in my heartache.
This incredible creature has also demonstrated a perseverance that according to the articles I’ve read has shocked scientist. While they are concerned about her malnutrition and possibility of infection, she continues with what seems like no end in sight to carry her calf. I can speak only from my experience but I was sustained by something greater than food...it’s called the bread of life...His Word sustained me for weeks when I failed to remember that eating is typically a basic necessity to life. Fasting, in biblical times, correct me all of you theologians, was often demonstrated when extreme distress was being faced. I find it only fitting that orca 35, wild as she may be, is able to demonstrate this picture of being sustained by a greater force than science can even explain. I explain it as God’s power over all creation!
Finally, I couldn’t help but think of Romans 8, as this image of God’s creature seems to be crying out!
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”
Even creation cries for a rescuer! I find it no coincidence that as I write this, my 8 year old is walking through our home singing, “This is My Father’s World”...the final stanza proclaiming...
“This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.”