Category Archives: Nature

the heavens declare the glory of God

Deadly Snake

About ten years ago my fifteen year old daughter and I went for a hike in the hills above Boulder. It was mid-April and we couldn’t wait to get out and stretch our legs and breathe deeply after a long winter of being cooped up inside.

We parked just off Hwy 36, at the trailhead. We’d brought our two medium-sized dogs, Dudley and Sprite, so we felt pretty safe.

The trail was a there-and-back kind of hike.

At the mid-point—about two miles into our hike—we passed through a wooded section, and paid particular attention because of the possibility of a lurking mountain lion. We made lots of noise, laughing and talking and swinging and hitting our walking sticks against tree trunks.

Then we heard it. The unmistakable and bone-chilling sound of an intimidated rattle snake.

We looked up to the rocks above us. A big rattler was sitting on a flat rock, about eight feet above us, flicking his tongue and rattling his warning.

We hurried to get away from the area. And we thanked God that the snake had not been closer to the trail. We made it to the turn around.

On our way back, Kiri and I kept reminding each other about the wooded section and to keep looking for the snake on the rock. Kiri was ahead of me, walking Sprite. Dudley was pulling me along as if he, too, was anxious to get past this spooky section of the trail.

I kept my eyes peeled to the right, scanning the rocks for the snake.

Just then out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the lightning-like movement. A snake on the trail…let me repeat….on the trail, had struck at Kiri, missing her calf by just inches. She hadn’t even seen it until I screamed a warning and she jumped clear.

Kiri picked up pebbles from the trail and began to pelt the snake. I yelled at her to stop it because the rocks were only making the snake bunch up into a tighter coil. We’d never get past him if he didn’t slither away from the trail. Even the dogs refused to budge.

The rattler wouldn’t move, so we had to climb up through some rocks and high grasses to get past that part of the trail, all the time fearing that we might encounter another snake.

After we got clear, we ran the two miles back to our car. And all the time, we kept thanking God for protecting us. Especially since we hadn’t brought a cell phone.

I’ve thought about that experience many times. Here are the lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Recognize that danger exists.
  2. Be alert…always. Predators strike when you think you’re safe.
  3. Be prepared. Know how you will meet a threat.
  4. Have a plan of defense or escape.
  5. Stay close to others.

Recognize danger, be alert, be prepared, have a plan, stay close.

Physical attacks can be terrible and traumatic. But, in the spiritual realm, attacks are no less devastating.

In the book of Ephesians, we are told to put on the full armor of God to defend against evil and evil forces. The author, Paul, was fully aware of spiritual danger and of the attacks of the devil.

  1. We need faith in God and His work on the cross,
  2. we need to practice doing right, so that we recognize wrong-doing,
  3. we need to know God’s Word well and be able to rightly handle it against worldly “wisdom,”
  4. we need to pray in alignment with the Holy Spirit.
  5. Stay close to others.

Faith in God, Do right, Know the Word, Pray, Fellowship.

This is the best way to avoidIMG_2467 a deadly snake.

“…take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ( Eph. 6:16 NIV Bible)

 

This Bug’s For You

Bruce came home with a nasty cold. At least I think it was a cold.

He rarely gets sick so I figured he’d be right as rain in a couple of days. But then the dreaded cough started. Bruce has the loudest cough in the animal kingdom. The walls of the house shake when he coughs. And when he gets a cough, it goes on and on and on for days.

I said, “Look, neither of us is going to get any sleep, so you’re banished to the guest room.” The next morning, I set about to wash the entire inside of the house with lysol. I was NOT going to get this cold (or whatever it was).

I usually open all the windows and try to shoo the nasty little buggers out, but since it was ten below that whole week, arctic breezes weren’t an option.

By Thursday morning, in spite of my best efforts, the bug had invaded and set up shop in my respiratory tract. I didn’t feel at all well.

Stupid me, I tried to carry on. There was so much to do.

Have you ever felt so bad that just moving your eyes makes you feel sick?

Yeah? You too?

I couldn’t write, or blog, or read, or anything. And because I’d not heeded my own advice about stopping activity and resting, I finally wound up in the ER. The good doc gave me antibiotics.

 

Yesterday was my first day out. Everything looked different. Bright. Almost dazzling. Like spelunking and getting lost in a dark cave for a week and then finally finding your way out into the noon day sun.

Ah, it’s good to feel good.

Just a reminder for all you sick people out there: go home before you make other people sick, get into bed, drinks lots of tea, and don’t try to carry on as if you’re a machine.

Those microscopic bugs are mightier that you. Your only defense against them is rest and time. And maybe antibiotics.

I think God lets us get sick every so often so we’ll realize how very fragile we are. And that He is our healer.

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Music

 

In my college days, a talented cellist lived next door. He used to practice excerpts from a Rachmaninoff symphony, over and over. Beautiful.

Years ago Bruce and I lived in a subdivision in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The friendly neighbors next to us had hung wind chimes in their back porch. During breezy days, the chimes made their mysterious music. To this day, whenever I hear wind chimes I think of those early days when my kids were babies, and smile.

In Longmont, when the children were in grade school, a large cottonwood shed shade and leaves in our backyard. In the fall, while its leaves still clung to the branches, the sound of the foliage in the wind resembled a kind of rhythmic applause.

In Paradise, California, a pair of owls hoo-hooed to each other across our backyard in a nightly love song.

Living in Estes Park,the community chorus of coyotes serenaded us almost every midnight.

Now we live close to interstates and major traffic arteries. The other night a truck zoomed down a nearby highway. Its speed seemed to send shockwaves of undulating pitches. My husband said, “Do I hear music?”

“No, it’s just a truck.”

But it did indeed sound like music. My brain and my husband’s brain both recognized the alternating sounds as an unwavering drone pitch surrounded by two higher pitches which seemed to hide, then emerge, then hide again within the drone.

I marveled that God has so ingrained music into the human brain that even random pitches or rhythms are collected, comprehended and arranged into some kind of musical order. Wind chimes, coyotes, applauding leaves, musical trucks.

The other day a friend on Facebook sent me a link to listen to the sounds of crickets. Whoever had recorded the crickets had slowed down the the speed of the sound waves. The result sounded like a heavenly choir. Now, granted, the “choir” was a bit repetitious, but my mind immediately comprehended the sounds in an orderly, rhythmic sense.

Why do we humans do that? I can only speculate that our ability for making and enjoying music is somehow connected with our brains’ hardwiring for language.

Both require a capacity to hear sounds while placing beats in categorized and anticipated sequence, translating sounds into meaning, responding physically to the rhythm, and responding emotionally to the meanings we construct from the sounds.

It’s amazing that we can do that.

Thank You, Lord, for the sounds of music!

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving

and extol Him with music and song. ” (Psalm 95: 1,2 NIV Bible)

 

 

Critters of the Suburbs

Last week, after we completed our move from Estes Park to the suburbs, I placed one of my geraniums pots on the front door stoop. It looked so cheery there with its bright red blooms and healthy green foliage. I got out the electric hedger—the one I haven’t used since our southern California days—and trimmed a hedge and pruned an overgrown rose bush. Bees buzzed nearby. I brushed a strand of spider web from my forehead.A large red squirrel scrabbled up and down the maple tree nearby.

A large fly somehow got into the house and made a racket until we finally managed to hunt it down with a fly swatter. A cricket got into the family room and chirped until I found his hiding place. I killed a large spider on the wall next to the curtains.

On Friday it snowed, so I rescued the potted geranium and brought it inside to defrost. That afternoon, I decided to prune the same geranium. As always I forgot to wear pruning gloves. It’s just a little plant, I told myself. Soon, the plant was shorn. I just had a couple more branches to remove. Something tickled my hand and when I looked, there was this enormous garden spider creeping across the back of my hand. I let out a shriek like Brunnhilde from a Wagnerian opera. The spider dropped off and disappeared back inside the foliage.

She re-emerged a few minutes later and I got her. But I’m slow to learn. With ungloved hand, I started to clear the clippings. Another large spider—this one looked truly dangerous— ran out onto the kitchen floor. Another Brunnhilde shriek.

Then I had to laugh when the thought occurred to me that we had to move from the Rocky Mountain wilderness to experience the closeness of creepy critters again.

In the mountains, the creepy crawlies die off pretty quickly.

But in the warm, sheltered corners of our suburban houses, bugs thrive. Under the well-watered leaves of our hedges and shrubs, spiders weave and watch.

I thought, isn’t that kind of like our spiritual lives, too? In places of obvious danger, we are vigilant. But in places where we think there is little threat, we relax and fail to guard against poisonous spiders, noisy crickets, and filthy flies.

Looks can be deceiving. The “suburbs” often contain more dangers than the rustic roads of the mountains.

Keep an eye out!

 

The Invisible Exists

We decided to drive all night to get to Las Vegas for my niece’s wedding on Saturday.

Bruce and I left Estes about 9 PM and drove south to intersect with I-70, the interstate that runs through the Rocky Mountains.

We’ve driven this route hundreds of times and we are always thrilled by its beauty.

Since we know the way so well, and have seen it, we know where the road will curve, we know the speed limits, the towns, the sights well before we encounter them.

This was not a trip for sight-seeing. We drank coffee to stay awake, and got through the desert to our air conditioned hotel before the morning sun could turn up the thermostat.

But as we drove through Colorado’s Glenwood Springs Canyon, I pictured the magnificent cliffs looming above us, hardy little pines and spruce trees clinging to the rocky base. By now, in August, the Colorado River wending its way at the bottom of the canyon would be groovin’ like a laid-back hippie, and rafters wouldn’t have to fight any powerful currents.

I felt sorry for tourists driving at this time of night. If they hadn’t seen the glories of this route on some other trip, they’d be driving blind, imagining that the darkness surrounding them contained nothing but black sky.

Oh, what they were missing!

I believe that’s how it is with the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus frequently referred to in the gospel of Matthew.

As Christians, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, we get a taste of what heaven is like. And sometimes, like tourists, God comes near and we get glimpses of His indescribable beauty. Having touched, tasted, smell, felt His glory, we anxiously look forward to more experiences.

But I can only tell another person about Him and how wonderful it is to be near God and to spiritually see Him.

It’s great to read about wonderful things along the route.

But at night, without sight, the traveler only knows from his reading of a map, or by someone who’s already been there.

A whole wonderful, colorful, exciting world exists.

It’s there even when the traveler’s eyes don’t see it.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (Matthew 5: 8, The Message)