Blue Spring is a sacred place

I don’t belong here.

Walking the wooden path of Blue Spring State Park next to the clear shallow waters, I am a trespasser in the habitats of the West Indian Manatees who winter here. I walk among the cabal palms and nature’s stillness disturbed only by the distant roar of an engine somewhere above and other tourists who have come to see the manatees inch their way forward into the hot spring where they pause, reverently it seems, over the opening from deep in the earth below.

Blue Spring is a sacred place.

So gracefully does the Manatee approach the spring head, the deep hole through the limestone that pours 111 million gallons of water per day from deep below the earth’s surface, enough for every resident of greater Orlando to drink fifty gallons of water a day. The manatee knows nothing of nearby Orlando. Nothing about Epcot or Disney World. Nothing of the Holy Land theme park. Nothing of technology, malls, or vacations. She lives where she is . . . in this special place where she spends her winters to stay warm by the heated water of Blue Spring.

Her movements seem effortless, so fluid and gentle, like the water around her. Her huge flat tail, like a leaf fluttering in a soft breeze, inches her upstream toward the place where the earth is refreshed by the natural hot tub, before the water from deep below the surface cools as it flows downstream to replenish the river. Slowly, very slowly, she moves to the edge of the black oblong opening, this hole in the earth, the spring head, the epicenter of the green pool at the head of the river where she lives. Her tail stops moving. She stays very still and bows her head, like the Virgin Mary pondering the mystery of an ever-virginal Incarnation.

The trespassers get to see this. We can only see it if we push away the noisy culture we have brought to this place; push away the interruptions of a gathering crowd of people taking on cell phones, laughing, and loudly speaking to their fellow tourists as though they were at the mall, cruising past the mannequins in the shop windows or stopping by a town for an hour or two on a cruise. Instead this is where the manatees live more naturally than we.

The manatees have no enemies. None but us.

~ Gordon C. Stewart, excerpt from Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness (January 23, 2017)


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