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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Like A Still Small Voice

The humidity greeted me like a brick wall as I stepped out of my car.

I wasn't expecting it to be this muggy, I mentally noted. But I shouldn't have been surprised; early August in the Mid-Atlantic States generally ushers in the three h's: hot, hazy and humid. And this particular day in my favorite marsh of Greenwich N.J., all three unpleasant conditions met together to make a sticky time of year even worse.

No matter how hot it was, at least there would be activity...or so I thought. But it seemed as if all my surroundings were taking siestas, as though the world was on lunch break. I don’t blame the world, in this heat.

There must be some life here I commented internally as I looked around, hoping for some signs of activity. But all my eyes could make out was the barren marshland surrounding me.

And it was humid.

I suppose there are a number of dynamics to the hobby of birdwatching that keeps thousands of observers coming back for more. Perhaps it's the aesthetic value, the sheer beauty of nature that forces the observer to return time and time again. Or maybe it's the good company that nature lovers attract that turns a hobby into a passion. Maybe the serenity of a walk through the woods is enough to satisfy the longing soul.

One of my favorite aspects of wildlife watching is the fact that you're chasing after life. The nature lover is seeking all the secrets that the world has to offer. The opening of the flowers, the migration of the birds, the fragile life cycle of the butterflies, all these puzzle pieces of life fall into place when you're out watching the natural world unfold.

There are times when the world is simply vibrating with the essence of life...

There are other times when it seems like an atom bomb went off.

It's humid enough to make you think an atom bomb was dropped I moaned to myself, again.

Off in the distance a small flock of migrating shorebirds cried, giving the coda to their time in North America. A little life, but too far away to write home about.

As I dragged myself along, the tarmac seemed to move under my feet. It was going to be a walk without redemption when all of a sudden a small, flighty object winged its way past my line of sight.

What in the world...?

My winged wonder finally sat itself down after a few circles and revealed itself to be a Red-spotted Purple butterfly; a visual feast that sits comfortably between "beautiful" and "out of this world stunning."

Thanks for sitting, my beauty I sweet talked the colorful insect as I drew near. You stay right there.

A few times the bold butterfly played hard-to-get, and would take off and fly around, taunting me all the time. But with longsuffering and a little perserverance, the butterfly finally yielded the shots I wanted; I had finally gotten the records of the life that had been lacking.

This encounter reminded me that no matter how many times you go out in the field, looking at the world around you, there will always be a new discovery that will pop up at an unexpected moment.

The spiritual plane seems to function in a similar fashion. There are those times, those roads we travel, that seem to have no messages from God whatsoever. We travel on, knowing our obedience will be rewarded, but the seeming absence of the divine is enough to leave us longing for more.

The Bible makes the course of action for these moments perfectly clear through it's long set of scenarios and precepts: keep walking. No matter what you feel, no matter what you can see, no matter what others are telling you, don't go off the path. Keep living as Jesus lived, no matter what the situation may seem like. Because we know eventually, His voice comes in like a still, small whisper.

And sometimes, the whisper has wings.

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