The 3rd Species

The 3rd Species

By Susan Johnson

(By James A. Roberts, 48 pages, w/photos & illus., $8, available from author)

Review by Susan Johnson

Copy Editor

If you don’t believe that nature can speak to you, this book will be like a journey through a foreign land where you don’t understand the language.

But if you believe that nature in all its forms can and does speak to those who are receptive and willing to listen, it will open new vistas for you to explore.

The premise of The 3rd Species is that people in our civilized world have lost the connection we once had with nature—both animate and inanimate. James A. Roberts tells of an awakening experience he had in the Wisconsin woods which started him on a journey to reconnect with the circle of life. Roberts explains that there are three types of inhabitants of our planet. He tells us of the “First People,” the fluid energies that could take form as rocks, trees, birds, animals (similar to human embryonic stem cells, which could become any sort of cell, skin, blood, tissue, etc.). Then “men” (indigenous/native peoples) came along, who understood that the “First People” were everywhere and deserved to be honored as ancestors and elders. The “First People” were discouraged by men who were careless, foolish or ungrateful.

But now “Others” are coming. They are like neither “First People” nor the “men”, but are immigrants to North America even further removed from other species. But these “Others” are asking the “First People” to help them evolve—or devolve—to rejoin the great council of species so they can remain in the circle. They don’t want to drift away in disconnection and cosmic isolation.

This book is “A Spiritual Handbook for the 3rd Species,” as one of the chapter headings says. You can read through it in one day, but the lessons it teaches may take a lifetime to absorb. It is actually a textbook for discovery. No two people may take the same path, but you will find many helpful suggestions. In a blending of prose, poetry, Native American earth wisdom and prayers, Jim Roberts encourages us to join hands with our fellow creatures and their surroundings. He suggests ways to help us get in tune—listening, breathing, music, dance, art, prayers.

If all this sounds a little odd for a Lutheran minister (which Roberts is), he recalls that Jesus also had a wilderness experience in the desert for 40 days and was with wild animals and angels. Jesus also used illustrations from nature in many of His lessons, urging His disciples to learn from the lilies of the field and the ravens of the air. Roberts particularly encourages us to get to know trees personally. Do trees have anything to tell us? In Psalm 96, we are told: “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth.” (v. 12-13)

This is not a book to just read and put on the shelf. You want to take it outside in nature and experience it. You can go alone or with others of like mind. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I tried to do just that. A walk through the park seemed like a good idea—but I only got halfway across when my ears were assailed by a loud, grating, mechanical noise—a chain saw. Across the street from the park, a man was methodically cutting down a large tree in his front yard. At first, I turned back, looking for a quiet place to sit by the bushes. I listened to a flock of birds who flew into a tree by one side of the park boundary. I heard their various calls. What could they tell me if I really took the time to listen more often?

Later, I went back to look at the other tree. The man had stopped work for awhile and gone inside. I saw a very sad sight—a large, standing stump with all the main limbs chopped off, lying in the front yard and extending out to the curb. Every branch was full of delicate little yellow-green flowers, sparkling like jewels, bursting with life. Now the whole tree was doomed to die.

Apparently, not enough people are getting the message. Let’s hope The 3rd Species can help change that. The book is available for $8 plus $2 shipping & handling from: James A. Roberts, 401 Paris Ave., Rockford, IL 61107, or Illinois residents, add 50 cents for tax. All profits will go to the Circle of Life Foundation.

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