The Small Moments Matter
Uncovering the Sacredness of Small Moments. Spirituality, Humanity, and the Alabama Beach Mouse.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say with confidence that you have no idea who Dr. David Davis is. At least, not the Dr. David Davis who can be credited for ensuring that the Alabama beach mouse was saved from extinction.
Am I right? I thought so.
Dr. David Davis is a biologist who studied the Alabama beach mouse in the 1960’s. Dr. Davis’ research was published in several articles where he highlighted the threats this tiny mouse was facing. Based on his work and his advocating for the beach mouse to be listed as an endangered species, the Alabama beach mouse was included on our nation’s first federal endangered species list in 1970. When the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was signed into law in 1973, the Alabama beach mouse and its habitat were included on the list and has remained protected since that time.
Why should you care?
There has been explosive growth along the Alabama coastline, where massive high-rise condos have emerged, and tourism has skyrocketed, making Alabama an attractive destination for both visitors and corporations interested in investing in its infrastructure.
The coastline builds have negatively impacted the Alabama beach mouse, whose population has significantly declined due to habitat loss and threat to their existence brought on by human activity.
You may still ask why should you care? It’s just a mouse.
The ecological system along the Alabama coastline would suffer greatly if the Alabama beach mouse disappeared. The mouse plays a crucial role in the food pyramid, and its burrowing activities contribute to the habitats available for other wildlife along the coast. The mouse’s disappearance would cause a disruptive, cascading effect that would lead to other species becoming more fragile that would threaten their own existence.
Have I convinced you yet about why you should care?
I hope so. Because the Alabama Department of Natural Resources takes the mouse’s survival so seriously that visitors to the coast and property owners along that coast pay a small percentage to a fund that is specifically set aside to ensure the Alabama beach mouse doesn’t disappear from the earth.
All of this thanks to the work of Dr. David Davis.
The internet couldn’t even tell me if Dr. Davis was still alive, but I’ll keep searching. That’s because your girl here hyper-focuses on a story until the story reveals the Holy wisdom it holds for all of us.
And that’s why this blog is titled “The Small Moments Matter.”
I remember when I first saw the line item simply called “The Beach Mouse Fund.” It indicated the amount of money that we would pay each year for the privilege of owning our home away from home along the Alabama coastline. That was in 2004, and every year since, I smile each time I see that line in our annual dues and assessments. A man whose name will likely be forgotten except for those in the biology realm who admire his work and continue to honor his legacy by working to protect this rodent of the beaches.
I rise early when I’m at the beach. When the sun is just rising and the beaches are quiet, there is a special serenity in the air. It restores me like nothing else. Oftentimes, in those early morning hours, I’ll see someone in an Alabama DNR uniform trudging through the sand dunes with little traps in their hands. Intrigued by this activity when I first witnessed it, I searched online to discover that this is the ongoing efforts that Dr. Davis began in the 60’s. Several times each year, beach mice are trapped and tagged so that the DNR can monitor the species’ viability and likelihood of survival.
I’ve come to recognize those early morning moments as God, me… and the beach mouse.
Once I saw the uniformed human open one of the set traps and gently release a snake back into the dunes. First of all, who knew that snakes lived in such close proximity to the beach?! But most importantly, that little snake proved something. The predator/prey cycle of life is alive and thriving on the beaches, just as Dr. Davis had envisioned.
Yet it remains fragile, because human life keeps bumping up against this delicate balance. But as long as we don’t f*ck around with the sacredness of the Endangered Species Act, the beach mouse may live on into perpetuity.
I won’t take it for granted that we will leave the Endangered Species Act alone. As I write this, environmental groups are still seething over President Biden going forward with The Willow Project.
And here we are again—why should you care?
The aggressive drilling projects will put up to 150 new wells and pipelines in areas that threaten the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems. In addition, this land is sacred to many Indigenous peoples, who have lived and farmed this area for centuries.
One disaster here could wipe out vast populations of wildlife and pollute the waters that could make the area uninhabitable.
Alaska needs a Dr. Davis, wouldn’t you think?
There are literally thousands of miles between Alaska and Alabama and more so metaphorically. But the primary difference between the two is that there wasn’t a big oil conglomerate pouring millions into lobbyists to support drilling along the Alabama coastline. Had that been the case, our little beach mouse would have disappeared from the planet years ago.
The voices of environmentalists and Indigenous peoples do not carry the same weight as the almighty dollar. Corporate greed won, and the Willow Project now begins. Only time will tell, but if history reveals anything, regard for life and protection of the environment will arrive one disaster too late.
That’s how we roll here in America. Live recklessly, apologize, then put the bare minimum of safety controls in place to continue to pay homage to that almighty dollar.
It’s all enough to make you want to give up, isn’t it?
But this is what today’s writing is about—you mustn’t.
For it is in those moments when we feel the most helpless that our small moments matter.
Dr. Davis, whose work to save the Alabama beach mouse began in the 60’s—a time when protests from people demanding equal rights pushed up against people who thought they had the right to gatekeep those rights.
His work continued into the 70’s—a time when a war half-way around the world polarized us again and sent too many of our young soldiers home in body bags from Vietnam.
Throughout those decades, people were certain the world was ending, or we wouldn’t recover from the carnage and bloodshed.
But we did, only to discover that each decade brings a new challenge that humanity must face—a challenge where we have a choice.
Ignore the pain of the oppressed or evolve beyond an archaic system that no longer serves our highest good.
Fortunately, we continue to evolve.
And also fortunately, while many of us are consumed by headlines that convince us that the world is really ending this time, there are millions of micro heroes going about their day, doing the good work to:
Feed the hungry
Protect the children
Rescue the animals
Revitalize the earth
Study the stars
And yes, save a tiny beach mouse that lives on a tiny stretch of coastline along our southern borders.
So, what of you? You who tend your gardens or offer a cup of tea to your lonely neighbor?
Your small moments matter, because there can never be the monumental moments without the small ones. The small ones become a wave of human consciousness, awakening each day to do what they can from their little spot in the world.
I think of Dr. Davis and his little spot and how one day he became aware that he may outlive a mouse that had been here for thousands of years, and he chose to do what he could.
All while the rest of us thought the world was ending.
We want to believe that we are making a difference.
We want to believe that we can move mountains.
We want to believe that our lives matter.
Beloved, they do.
So, plant your flowers.
Tend to the needy.
Offer the food to the stray cat.
I see you in this wave of human consciousness.
I see you.
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