An Octopus, Really?

I am fascinated by God’s creation.

Some of my first memories are of trips taken with family to see wild and exotic animals at a zoo.  I remember spending hours thumbing through a book series my folks purchased for us; each month a new group of animals was featured.  I spent several afternoons turning over stones in search of snakes and bugs and wormy things.  I’ve wandered the beach.  I’ve hiked mountain trails.  I’ve paddled down rivers.  Everywhere you can go there is an opportunity to “stop and smell the roses”, not to mention the skunks and other natural odors out there.

A recent trip to a zoo reminded me how amazingly creative God is.

The zoo this time was the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska.

Exhibits are largely clustered near the main entrance, so almost immediately we were into the animals.

I’m not sure how much time you’ve spent at zoos.  I don’t know if you are as fascinated by the variety of life on this planet as I am.  I do know that as I examined bats and hummingbirds and snakes and even cacti, I was once again a little boy marveling at how strange, dangerous, amazing and incredible life is.

We spent some time in a butterfly house where I saw a display of hatching butterflies.

I could have spent all day watching some sharks glide with grace and power right over my head.

I watched a cheetah eating.  I listened as a rhino prepared to charge.  I stood eye to eye with an alligator floating by pretending to be a log.  I sailed over the head of a giraffe on the “Skyfari”.  I stood inches away from poisonous snakes, hand-sized beetles, gorillas and more.

Have you ever really looked at any of these animals or the dozens of others you’ll commonly find at a zoo?

Would you in a bazillion years come up with a porcupine?  Or a beaver?  Or a tarantula?

What about a jellyfish?  Or a tapir?  Or a Siberian tiger?

An octopus, really?

That’s just the animals.  Zoos almost always contain an equally surprising variety of plant life.

Each with unique ways of surviving and thriving.  Each finding a way to grow, even when contained in an artificial environment like a zoo.

Thinking of how wonderful all of these plants and creatures are, I am reminded of our place in the grand scheme of things.

We are called to be stewards, caretakers, champions and preservers of the world.

The plants.  The animals.  Each other.  The whole earth.

If you need a reminder of how amazing life is.  If you need a dose of “why am I here?”  If you want a shot of inspiration, a glimpse into the bonds that connect us, a chance to see something bigger than yourself, I say…  Get thee to a zoo!

Then let’s get busy being the stewards we are called to be.  A few steps to get started:

  • Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.  (check out some tips here…note the section for kids)
  • Pay attention to how the things you consume are made.
  • Note your impact on the environment.
  • Think about becoming a member of a zoo.

What are your suggestions for becoming more aware of God’s creation and ways to be better stewards?

Life is better together,
Shawn

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