What We Can Learn from Nature

Posted: March 17, 2016 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
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A few days ago, I had an assignment for my class over at ArtFruition.com. Manuel Luz was teaching on beauty and transcendence. It was a beautiful lesson. As part of the assignment, Manuel asked us to go out for a walk and to seek God and write about our observations. Here is what I came up with:

“My walk today was unique. I am in the midst of a speaking/painting “tour” in Florida. A few things fell through leaving me with two open days in my schedule. I decided to approach a church camp to see if I might spend the days there on a working retreat of sorts and they readily agreed. My walk today was on the grounds of the camp, specifically down to the lake. Walking along, I see geckos scurrying from place to place as Spanish moss hangs gracefully on ancient trees. The air is aromatic with the scents of early spring. Of course in Florida, it’s pretty much always Spring and Summer. So many things hit me. It’s still pretty cold back home, here it’s probably about 80 degrees and sunny. The lake is beautiful. Many large water lilies cover the water near the shore. when a slight breeze picks up the lilies roll over exposing their red-brown underside which makers for a very curious effect.

At first upon reaching the lake, I see very little in the way of wild life. At first I thought I saw a soft shelled turtle, but it may have been a dead lily pad leaf (it was a little too far away), which got me thinking about the amazing way God made His creation. The soft shell turtle can hide in plain sight because his shell looks like a dead leaf among a multitude of leaves. I had sort of hoped to see an alligator, not a big one, but then I thought it is probably better that there are no gators at a church camp. I walked out onto the fishing pier just in time to see a flock of seven coots swimming around. Coots are a beautiful jet black duck with a bright white bill. They are a diving duck, meaning that they can fully submerge themselves when they dive in search of food. Fascinating creatures. All of the sudden they scattered for the weeds at the shore, and I looked up just in time to see a large hawk, or perhaps an immature eagle flying overhead. The coots got to cover in time and the giant bird glided gracefully away. The circle of life was illustrated in sharp detail.
I saw something bright orange near the surface of the water, I thought perhaps it might be a beautiful flower, but alas it was the feathers of an errant arrow that no doubt escaped the archery range. Of course the most interesting things in the water are usually found beneath. I looked through the clear water and there before me swam a HUGE carp. Around him were a multitude of smaller fish. One might think this was yet another circle of life incident, but the carp holds no danger to the young fish. Nature’s janitor of the deep, the carp cleans the bottom and exists on a vegetarian diet. Despite his huge size, he is not the least bit predatory.

What was God saying to me in this time? Little treasures are everywhere, if I will take the time to slow down and notice. His creations live and breath, which allows me to remember to keep things in perspective and maybe not take myself quite so seriously. Lastly God has everything under control. The predators limit the prey. The prey have protections from the predators. He even created creatures to clean up the mess and all are important. The predators would starve without the prey but starvation would also come for the prey without the predators because without population limits there would not be enough food for all the prey animals. The “janitorial” animals sustain the environment so that all can live. There may be a top and a bottom of the food chain, but they all balance each other out and they are all interdependent kind of like our human existence and even in the church. Everyone is important, everyone has a role to play. Beyond all that I think God was trying to show me that He has it all under control and what I really need to do is play my part and trust Him.”

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