Monday, August 23, 2010

The Divine is in the Details

I love spending an afternoon at the zoo.

To me, animals and birds and reptiles display the creative genius of God in a unique, limitless, mind-blowing way.

Recently on one such afternoon, I opened up my senses to revel in this creativity, and it resulted in an unforgettable day.

The St. Louis zoo has a stingray exhibit at the moment, at which you can feed and touch the stingrays. I spent a good half hour, elbow-deep in salt water, letting my fingers glide across the slick, silky backs of dozens of stingrays as they swam by. What beautiful creatures!

Later on, I heard barking, like a dog, but just a little more throaty. I followed the sound to find four sea lions swimming repetitive patterns in their pool. I soon found out why the one was making so much noise – dinner time. The keeper entered the exhibit with two gigantic buckets of fish. As if on cue, the four animals took their places, one of them several yards distant, facing away from the employee. Another one swam in circles. Yet another took the steps right at the guy’s feet, stretching his neck like a begging pet. They each got their whole fish in turn. The one facing away listened for the splash of the fish in the water and then caught it out, like a game. The one begging sometimes was denied a fish until he took a step back. It was so cool to watch their personalities.

This zoo also has a penguin house. It surprised me to find that the exhibit had no barriers. I mean, if I wanted to break the rules, I could have reached over the glass and touched the penguins swimming in the icy water. Another sat on a fake rock right above the entrance on the edge of their man-made habitat. We asked the volunteer why he stayed up there and didn’t try to get out of his perimeters, and she said that with such good eyesight, the little guy knew how high up he was and would never attempt an escape. Plus, they aren’t that fond of people! That made me laugh.

Oh, I saw a bear sloth for the first time. Didn’t even know those existed. It looked like a black bear, but his coat hung about him all shaggy and long. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was the Despicable Me trailer when the little girl got a carnival prize and exclaims, “It’s so FLUFFY!!!”

My favorite place to find God’s creative attention to detail is in the aviary – the bird house. Some don’t hide their unique characteristics, like a hornbill with its titanic square beak, or the notable toucan with his flashy beak and distinct coloring. Some, though, look plain or unimpressive, but underneath the coat of visible all-black feathers lies a streak of the most crimson red you’ve ever imagined.

I guess what I’m trying to say with my zoo narrative is that we live in an amazing world. Maybe it isn’t animals that grab your attention – maybe it’s flowers or rocks or sunsets or oceans or people or a host of other creations. But the point is, the evidence of God’s touch is everywhere. If we open our eyes and ears and activate our other senses to the details around us, we have the opportunity to experience Him in a new way.

From the car one night on the way home from a dinner with friends, I watched a lightening storm that blew me away. It started out as heat lightening, turned into several jagged vertical strikes, proceeded into sizzling fingers of electricity traversing the sky, and culminated in a combination of all three lighting up the various layers of clouds. And I couldn’t help but thank God for the special show, a display of His power and grace.

This week, I encourage you to find the Divine, to find God, in the details!


Anonymous said...

" find the Divine" I love that. It just rolls off the tongue, "Find the Divine."

We all need to take some time to do that, don't we? I love it when little things, impromptu, like your lightning storm, show up and we can watch God's wonder.


Robin Prater said...

Love this one!! St. Louis Zoo is my favorite place to go. Just love being in the park. It is awesome to see all of God's creatures. Truly amazing what our God can do.
Thanks for sharing=)