By Debra Bell
Special to the Weekly
“But most of all I shall remember the monarchs, that unhurried westward drift of one small winged form after another, each drawn by some invisible force.”
Rachel Carson, wrote these words in a letter to Dorothy Freeman on Sept. 10, 1963 from a room at the Newagen Inn in Boothbay Harbor.
At 1 p.m. on June 1, the First Congregational Church of Brewer, located at 35 Church Street in Brewer, will honor Carson’s words and her passion for environmental causes by planting milkweed to help bring monarch butterflies to Brewer. The event is free to attend.
“Monarch butterflies use milkweed to lay their eggs on, eat and then form chrysalises,” said Grace Bartlett, pastor at the First Congregational Church. “We wanted to honor [Rachel] by providing some education and then planting milkweed around the church.”
Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist wrote “Silent Spring,” a book largely credited with starting the environmental movement. “Silent Spring” brought awareness to the practice of using DDT and other pesticides. Her work led to the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was 56 when she passed away on April 14, 1964.
“Rachel Carson was the person who got the modern environmental movement going,” Bartlett said. “We feel as a church that we are all part of God’s creation and that we need to do the appropriate things to care for [the Earth].”
In the Christian faith, butterflies have special significance, Bartlett noted. The butterfly symbolizes the resurrection: it “dies” as a caterpillar, is “buried” as a chrysalis or cocoon then emerges into new life as a fully-formed butterfly. Other cultures recognize butterflies as symbols of long life, of being a direct connection to the Great Spirit and as a totem for joy and life.
“By planting milkweed, we are fostering and encouraging new life,” Bartlett said. “We’re providing a habitat for them as well.”
That habitat is important, Bartlett said, because with land being developed throughout the area, the natural milkweed habitat is declining. This is one way that the church can give back, she said.
The public is encouraged to join in for a presentation then take part in planting milkweed around the church or taking seeds home to plant.
For information, call Bartlett at 989-7350.