Aug 15 2012

What Are We Seeing?

Spruce trees are a beautiful part of nature. They stand tall and have a wonderful horizontal branching pattern.

Did you know that in some parts of the world, people cut them down and cover them with strange items made of plastic and some of these items are strange, filmy strips cut from some sort of mylar or something?

I am messing with you a bit. I am talking about a Christmas tree. I love Christmas trees and all the decorations that go on them, including the plastic tinsel. My point is simple – how we look at things, how we “see”, affects our thinking about them and that definitely includes God’s creation.

I was recently at a meeting of native plant enthusiasts. The presenter was talking about keeping a garden wild, and had some great ideas, but she surprised me when she talked about how some people will take a hose to wash the spiderwebs out of their trees and bushes. That never even occurred to me. Those spiderwebs are such a beautiful adornment for the bushes and show how tightly connected the natural world is, even in a garden.

Spiders are amazing creatures, even if we don’t always like them. Frankly, even though I enjoy photographing them and their webs, they do seem a little creepy at times. I don’t know what that is about our nature that makes us feel that way. Yet they are obviously an extremely important part of our world because they are so common. Spiders are the number one predator in the world, and without them, we would be covered with all sorts of bugs that would destroy plant life. There is a very important balance to predators and prey in the environment that works extremely well. And if we are to honor God and His creation, and honor God with the idea that maybe He actually knows what He is doing, we need to acknowledge that even if we don’t always like everything we see, such things are still important.

It does come down to how we see the world.  Paul Baloche wrote a song called “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord”:

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You
I want to see You.”

There is much around us, including those silly little spiders in our bushes, that give us a glimpse into the wonder of God’s world, to see God. But we have to open our eyes to see the world, “open the eyes of our heart”, and not allow our very human limitations of sight give us a misleading view of nature.

The webs are made by small sheet web spiders. The spider in the big web is a jeweled araneus orbweaver.

— Rob