Realizing spiritual connection through Shamu

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

By MARK DAVENPORT / Guest Columnist

Sitting there in the sun splashed bleachers of Shamu Stadium I was brought to an awareness that was spiritual.

That’s the only way that I know how to explain my experience.

I have always loved watching the Shamu Show. As a little boy, my parents took my brother and me to San Diego where we saw the original Shamu. A little later, while living in Texas, Tracy and I took our children to see Shamu at Sea World San Antonio. This past week we traveled to Florida and saw Shamu at Sea World Orlando. This time watching the whales swim and splash and dive and interact with their human counterparts was, well, as I said earlier, spiritual.

For me, it wasn’t just entertainment. It was something far deeper, more wonderful than that.

Maybe it’s because with some age comes some deeper sense of spirituality, a sense of connection with life, the earth and all its inhabitants that I was moved. I don’t know. What I do know is that sitting there watching those marvelous creatures communicate with humans, I was aware that we are all a part of this wonderful planet Earth and that, especially we humans, have a responsibility to take care of God’s creation — all of God’s creation.

What’s troubling is that we seem to take so many things about creation for granted. Or, maybe, we’ve simply forgotten that we are here as caretakers not consumers. Form time to time it’s good for us to take a look at our individual habits and see whether or not they reflect an attitude of care or an approach of pure consumerism. We can effect some change if only in our own kitchens, gardens, yards or garages. There are products that we can buy that are earth friendly. Most grocery stores have sections of organically grown foods. They cost a bit more, but they are grown without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics or chemical pesticides. Grass clippings can be composted along with scraps from our tables to make mulch or fertilizer. Aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, a lot of plastics can be recycled instead of dumped into landfills.

I never expected to have all of these things flash through my head as I sat down on the second row of Shamu Stadium. All I wanted was to be entertained, to look over and see my kids smiling and having fun. But, that’s not all that happened. The first whale was barely out of the gate and swimming — breaking the surface of the water, rising into the air, and beautifully turning down with a perfect dive, and I was taken aback. Symphonic music playing across the stadium, the whale rose for a second time, and I was al in. Something swept over me. I can’t explain it. But I felt connected. It was a good feeling – spiritual, yes, spiritual.