Learning her son has cancer, author prays for our role on planet

Nature writer Susan Cerulean says she has done everything she could to raise a child in the outdoors. And having recently learned that her 20-year-old son has cancer, she sees his condition as a microcosm of the perils facing Florida.

Cerulean was honored for her writings this week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She is an author of books including the “Florida Wildlife Viewing Guide” and “Tracking Desire: A Journey After Swallowed-tail Kites” and an editor of “Between Two Rivers” and “The Wild Heart of Florida.”

But Cerulean, who also has edited and written reports for the commission including its “Wildlife 2060” report, said she wasn’t sure if she would make it to the commission meeting to accept her honors.

“I found out two weeks ago my son has a form of lymphoma,” she said. “I have done absolutely everything a person can do to raise a child outside. I’ve made my career on behalf of Florida and our children.”

“But I think the thing that is in him, which the doctor says is incredibly treatable and we are holding on to that, the cancer — is related to your work up here — our work — to be done. It’s related to the hydrilla that clogs the Wacissa River. It’s related to the red tide. My child is a microcosm for what is happening in this whole state. I will spend a lot of time seeing that he gets the best care. Of course, any of us would.

“But I will not stop speaking for the things that are schizophrenic in the way we do business in our state and on our continent. And you know what those things are. And you are in such a position of leadership. So I really didn’t know if I could be here with you. But I wanted to say to you, ‘Keep it up.’ Say ‘no’ when you need to say ‘no’ … and say a prayer for us.”

Then Cerulean said she would like to end with a prayer:

“Align us, oh beauteous one, with your purposes. Open our ears, our inner- and our outer-eyes, to the particular work you would have us do…”

“We are hungry to know what is our part, what is the thing each of us needs, that we were put on this planet to do?

“Our lives are so short but our hearts are so strong. We know when we serve other life forms and our children, we also serve ourselves.

“Teach us to be as persuasive as the pelican
as inevitable as the ancestor
as relentless as the raptor
as relaxed as the tide
as reliable as the moon
as present as the swallow-tailed kite to the wind.”

Visit Cerulean’s Web site at http://www.susancerulean.com/.

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