Sep 28 2017

All Life Matters

_DSC7516I, like everyone else, have been saddened by the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes. Of the three major ones to hit, Irma got special attention from my wife and I. All of my wife’s family lives in Florida and we also have a number of friends who live there. We anxiously awaited news from our loved ones as the storm approached and rolled through the state. You can’t help but worry about your loved ones when they are in harm’s way.

I have to admit that the people of Florida were not my only concern. As someone who has photographed the wildlife of the Sunshine State numerous times I wondered how the fauna would be affected by the hurricane. At first I concentrated on the birds of southern Florida, especially in the Everglades. Would they be able to survive the incredibly strong winds of the storm? Later, I thought about all the alligators there and wondered how they would be affected. I hoped they too would be able to survive.

_DSC7009I have to admit my concern for the alligators was influenced by something I had recently read from John Muir’s writings. Here’s what Muir wrote: “Many good people believe that alligators were created by the Devil, thus accounting for their all-consuming appetite and ugliness. But doubtless these creatures are happy and fill the place assigned them by the great Creator of us all. Fierce and cruel they appear to us, but beautiful in the eyes of God. They, also, are his children, for He hears their cries, cares for them tenderly, and provides their daily bread… How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies! how blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!…alligators, snakes…are part of God’s family unfallen, undepraved, and cared for with the same species of tenderness and love as is bestowed on angels in heaven or saints on earth.”

_DSC8366I watched a good bit of the news coverage of Hurricane Irma and don’t recall the storm’s effect on wildlife being mentioned once. It made me wonder if anyone cared.   I certainly understand why the primary focus was on the storm’s impact on humans but I’d like to think that there were others beside myself that were concerned about the wildlife of the area. I’m sure there were. And, if not, I can rest knowing God was concerned.

_DSC7622The Bible reveals that God is the author of all life and that all life matters to God. We are no doubt more picky about what we consider important but if God loves and cares for all of Creation shouldn’t we? Even the alligators and snakes mentioned by Muir should concern us for they are our fellow-creatures. So the next time another storm threatens I hope you will lift up a prayer not only for the humans at risks but also for our other brothers and sisters–the wildlife we share this planet with. The Psalmist declares to God, “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Ps. 104:24) Let’s not forget to show our concern for the rest of God’s Creation. God certainly cares for them and so should we.


(The pictures shown here are some I’ve taken in southern Florida.)

Mar 17 2013

Song of the South

_CES1562The Psalmist tells us to “sing to the Lord a new song.” (96:1) After traveling and photographing in South Carolina and Georgia the past six days I am, indeed, singing a new song to the Lord. I’ll call it the “Song of the South.” It doesn’t include the words “zippedy doo-dah, zippedy dey” but the sentiment is close. It is a joyful celebration of all the new natural beauty I have seen. For whatever reason, I have not photographed South Carolina and Georgia before. I’ve discovered that this was a mistake.

CI758In recent days I’ve traipsed through various swamps, strolled along the shores of barrier islands, and marveled at sunrises on the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve watched majestic alligators sunbathing and seen explosions of color in azalea bushes. I’ve gazed with wonder at tunnels of live oaks draped in Spanish moss and felt like a kid again picking up seashells on the coast. All of these experiences are cause for celebration and praise. I am well-aware that God is the Giver of all good gifts so I offer Him my song of gratitude for all I’ve seen and witnessed on this journey.

In times past I wondered how a person could be expected to always “sing a new song to the Lord” but it all seems pretty clear to me now. Each day we are given new blessings. A lot of these we take for granted because they come so routinely. Others are brand new experiences and therefore more obvious. Still, each day we experience God in new ways and this experience calls for a new song. It can’t be the same old song because it’s a new day, things are different, we are different. As we come to experience more and more of God’s goodness, love and grace we have to keep coming up with new songs, new ways of expressing our own love, gratitude and worship in return.

_CES1745I encourage you to take the time to think about what God has provided or done for you today. Give some thought to the routine blessings that were yours this day, as well as those things that were special or different. Once you’ve done this, offer in your heart or with your tongue a new song to the Lord. In light of what God has provided you, nothing less than a new song will do.


(I took the top image this morning at Jekyll Island, the middle image yesterday at Cumberland Islands National Seashore, and the bottom one this morning at the Okefenokee Swamp.)