May 11 2014

Wishing God a Happy Mother’s Day

_DSC4751It’s Mother’s Day and lots of people are taking advantage of the occasion to express their love and gratitude to or for their mothers.  Countless cards have been sent, flowers and other gifts shared, and on Facebook just about everyone has posted a picture of their mother.  Mothers play a vital role in our lives so it is only appropriate that we express our gratitude to them.  Hopefully, however, that is not something we do just once a year.  When you remember the sacrifices most mothers make for their children, the time they invest caring and providing for, protecting and nurturing their children, they truly do deserve more than an annual day of remembrance.

whitetail doe and fawn book (v) crA few days ago I was out photographing in the nearby Sloughs and had a chance to take pictures of a pair of bald eagles who were watching over a couple of eaglets.  The mature eagles knew I was in the vicinity and their constant cries made me aware that they were in protective mode.  I was there long enough to see one of the adult eagles bring food to the nest.  This indicated they were also in providing mode.  One of the eagles spent more time near the nest more than the other.  I assumed it was the female but I could not say that for sure.  Regardless, watching it sit there watching over the eaglets reminded me that mothers play a very important role in the animal kingdom as well.

Some animals have more of what we would call a maternal instinct than others but after years of watching animals it is safe to conclude that most female creatures do, in fact, care for their young.  They not only give birth to their offspring but spend a good bit of energy and time nursing, protecting and providing for their little ones.  Many exhibit the same sacrificial and loving characteristics we see in good human mothers.  These traits are a must for the survival of the species but also for the general welfare of the young.

bison and calf crI happen to believe that the maternal care we see in good mothers—human and nonhuman alike—is a reflection of God.  I realize that for a variety of reasons we tend to speak of God in masculine terms but the Bible does not intend for us to view God as being literally male.  The Bible says “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) and as such God demonstrates characteristics that we associate with both males and females.  As the Creator God gives birth to the world and all that is. The God described for us in Hosea 11 definitely has maternal characteristics.  Jesus, who is the greatest revelation of God we have, even used maternal imagery.  In Matthew 23:37 we find him weeping over Jerusalem and saying “how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

Canada goose with goslingsI happen to have had a mother who was (is) very loving.  She has enriched my life in many ways.  I see in her love a reflection of God’s love.  I’ve seen that same kind of love in countless other mothers over the years.  I’ve seen it in nature as well.  So on this Mother’s Day I do give thanks for my mother but even more so for the love of God who loves us all with a true mother’s love.  I see no reason at all not to wish God a very happy Mother’s Day.  At the very least we should all offer our thanks today for the way God’s love is reflected in mothers everywhere throughout Creation.


(I took the eagle image at Henderson Sloughs WMA, the whitetail deer at Shenandoah NP, the bison in Wyoming, and the geese near Frankfort, KY.)

Mar 23 2011

Experiencing Creation Vicariously

Eagle with fishLet me say right off that I believe that there’s no better way to experience God’s Creation than by getting outdoors and enjoying it firsthand.  There are, however, some wonderful alternatives.  In recent weeks I’ve spent a good bit of time in front of the computer watching a live cam of an eagle’s nest in Norfolk, Virginia.  A friend told me about the site about the time the eagle pair had produced their three eggs.  About a week and a half ago the first eaglet was born.  Since then, its two siblings have also hatched.  What an incredible blessing it has been to watch the eagle pair care for their little eaglets.  I especially enjoy watching the feeding sessions.  If you would like to check out the live cam here is the link:  (This has become a very popular site so if you don’t get on at first, keep trying.  Also, make sure to open the discussion site to the right; there’s lots of great information on eagles available there.)

Getting to watch what I’ve seen on the live cam would be next to impossible in the wild.  In the vast majority of cases it would not be safe for me or the eagles to do so.  For that reason I am grateful for modern technology and the opportunities that we are given to observe nature vicariously.  In the past I’ve also enjoyed watching live cams of grizzly bears at McNeill River in Alaska and of Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.  If you can’t be there in person, this is the next best thing.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about bald eagles through books and also lectures I’ve heard given by my friend, Ken Jenkins.  A number of years ago I accompanied Ken on a trip to the Chilkat Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska.  It was an amazing experience.   This, combined with the wonderful live cam in Virginia, has vastly increased my knowledge of this majestic bird. 

Lone eagle on branch 4Students of the Bible will recall that the eagle is mentioned several times in Scripture.  Often it portrays speed and power.  In both the Old Testament (Ezekiel 1:10-14) and New Testament (Revelation 4:7) the eagle is included as one of the manifestations of God.  In Exodus 19:4 God speaks to the Hebrews and says, “You yourselves have seen…how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.”  Perhaps the most famous biblical reference to eagles is found in Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I encourage you to check out the live eagle nest cam and to reflect on God’s Word as you do.  If you do I suspect you’ll find yourself giving thanks for God’s wonderful Creation and for the opportunity to experience it vicariously from time to time.


(I took the images above at the Chilkat Eagle Preserve in Alaska.)

Dec 2 2009

On Wings of Eagles

Eagle-with-fish-crA few years ago about this time I had the privilege of going to Alaska to photograph bald eagles.  It was an incredible experience.  Where I live you rarely see eagles; there I was surrounded by them!

Eagles are truly fascinating birds with many interesting traits.  They are known for their keen eyesight and ability to soar high in the sky.  The Bible refers to eagles on numerous occasions. Probably my favorite “eagle verse” is Isaiah 40:31 which says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Here the majestic eagle’s ability to soar is compared to the benefit that comes from hoping in, or waiting on, the Lord.

If you’ve ever watched an eagle soar you know that this analogy makes good sense.  Eagles are able to soar because they have learned to wait for a draft and use it to lift them higher and higher.  They do not have to beat their wings to rise to greater heights; they simply use the air currents and updrafts available to them.

In our spiritual lives we often try to do too much in our own power or strength.  When we do this we become tired and weary.  The key to spiritual growth and accomplishing things for God is to wait on the Holy Spirit to lift us up or give us strength.

In both the Hebrew and Greek languages the words for wind and spirit are the same.  Like an eagle, we must wait on the wind—God’s Spirit—if we hope to fly high.   When we do, as the prophet Isaiah indicated, we are able to “soar on wings like eagles…run and not grow weary…walk and not be faint.”   This is a lesson we can all learn from one of God’s most magnificent creatures.


 (I took the image above near Haines, Alaska.)