Dec 12 2012

The Fragile Web of Life

Last Thursday Rob and I took a guided tour of a swamp trail at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Florida.  Since this is a habitat I hardly know at all I learned a lot from the naturalist leading the tour.  One of the things he kept stressing is how in nature everything is connected.   This made me think of a couple of my favorite quotations concerning nature.  Long ago Chief Seattle said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”  John Muir spoke similar words when he said, “When we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

The naturalist leading our tour emphasized the impact flora and fauna have on one another.  He also talked about the impact of humans on the earth.  Everything we do impacts our world one way or another.  In southern Florida this is evidenced in what has happened to the Everglades.  Development and a number of poor decisions over the decades have greatly threatened the survival of this unique habitat.  This is tragic for a number of reasons.  One reason, just alluded to, is that the Everglades are unique.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who fought valiantly to protect this region, noted that “There are no other Everglades in the world.”  If what exists in southern Florida disappears this will be the end of a beautiful and special ecosystem.

Another reason the loss of the Everglades would be tragic is the wondrous diversity of life that exists there.  The Everglades serve as the home for countless birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.  It also serves as host to magnificent flowers, ferns and trees.  Humans have severely altered the flow of water that has sustained the Everglades for eons.  Much habitat has already been lost and more is threatened.  This will affect every living creature and thing in the region.

Still yet another reason the loss of the Everglades would be tragic is spiritual in nature.  This portion of North America, like the rest of the planet, is God’s Creation.  As I have noted numerous times on this blog, God makes Himself known through His Creation.  If we lose unique habitats like the Everglades we actually lose opportunities or means of learning about God that we will not find anywhere else.

I am an environmentalist not just because I care about the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.  I am an environmentalist because I am a Christian who understands that God cares for this planet and uses His Creation to teach us about Himself.  If we do not protect what God has made it will be like removing books from the Bible and never being able to read them again.

In the web of life humans are affected by the rest of the natural world.  We must never forget that everything we do, likewise, affects everything else—even God’s ability to make Himself known to us.  If that isn’t incentive enough to take Creation Care seriously, I don’t know what is.

–Chuck


Jan 20 2010

The Benefits of Snow

ANP South Window snow“He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.”  Psalm 137:16

Here is southeast Kentucky we have gotten far more snow than normal lately.  Rob tells me that along with the deluge of rain to the coastlands of California, the higher mountains are being laden with snow. 

When it comes to snow most people either hate it or love it.  The Bible, however, sees snow as a gift of God.  In most instances snow is beautiful to behold but it also serves many useful purposes.  Snow, like rain, brings moisture to the earth.  Snow provides protection for some animals and enables others to reach food sources they might not otherwise be able to get to.  To some it will sound strange but snow also provides insulation to both plants and animals that enable them to survive frigid conditions.

Humans tend to judge most things—like snow–by whether they benefit us or not.  This is just another example of our anthropocentric tendencies.  It seems clear that many of God’s gifts in nature are not primarily intended for us.  He sends rain and snow not just for the benefit of man but for all of His Creation. 

I think it would prove helpful if we periodically tried to look at the world from different perspectives.  For example, we could consider how plants might “view” rain or how animals might “look at” clouds.  By pursuing this exercise I suspect we would come to see both the wisdom and goodness behind God’s Creation.  We would likely also come to appreciate more the “web of life” so many naturalists have spoken of and recognize the hand of God behind it.

The image above was taken at Arches National Park last month.  Such beautiful formations are made possible by wind, rain and snow.  Hopefully I’ll remember that the next time I’m tempted to complain about some of the inconveniences that come with snow.

–Chuck