By chance, I came across two items today about elephants, one of them bizarre and tragic, the other a pleasant discovery. For many years I’ve been a fan of the Malaysian-born Sri Lankan Tamil singer Kamahl, who has been in Australia since 1953 when he went there to study. He has a magnificently rich baritone voice, a delight to listen to whether he’s singing or speaking.
I found a video put together by another fan of his to a recording made more than 30 years ago of a song called The Elephant. It looks at the world from the point of view of this creature that expresses something of the humour of God, an animal that has served humans in so many ways. It also echoes both accounts of creation in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis, that God has places man in a relationship of care and responsibility with everything He has created.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was . . .
So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.
I found the tragic story of the death of a 49-year-old bus driver, Tomas Lopez, and of an escaped circus 40-year-old circus elephant named Hilda in a bizarre accident in Mexico.