Finding God, self, and community in wild spaces. The better we know our wild neighbors the more we'll discover ourselves.
A vision informed by Henry David Thoreau’s interpretation of sauntering, Jesus’ understanding of neighbor, Aldo Leopold’s concept of thinking like a mountain, Rachel Carson’s prophetic voice and John Muir’s way of capturing the beauty and uniqueness of wild neighbors with words.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Power to change, love for all

Today I’m reflecting on the well-known and popular (for good reason) scripture John 3:16 with regard to wildlife and wild spaces. It was the combination of this-morning's Tiadaghton Audubon Society birdwalk at Hills Creek State Park (photos attached) and my morning reading from the Bible that led me to this reflection today.

“God loved the world so much that God gave God’s Only son, so that whoever believes in him may experience eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Here “the world” means all of the great mass of life on planet earth in all of its beauty and diversity (mountains, valleys, oceans, birds, trees, flowers, insects...the whole and all of its parts with none left out).

“Eternal life,” means at least two things; life without end, and the FULLNESS of life.

What this means is that, according to the Bible, our experience of the fullness of life can only happen within the scope of God’s love for the whole earth and all of its inhabitants.

Furthermore, in Paul's letter to the Colossians he writes that “God made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (Colossians 1:20)

Somehow God makes peace even with wildlife and wild spaces by means of Christ's blood on the cross. In Christian tradition the power to experience a changed heart and transformed life is received as a gift through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as Christ becomes a victim of the same sin (failure to love) and death that we all experience and emerged from the grave having overcome both.This most powerful power in the universe is the love that leads me to pray the following prayer:

“Change the desires of my heart O God, so it beats in tune with yours. And let this change you’ve brought about within me find expression in my living.”

Do we trust God to change the desires of our hearts? Do we believe that God loves us and wants the best for us?

In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we are given the most profound example of what God's love looks like, and we are given the reality of God's presence. This reality of God's presence has the power to change the hearts of people and empower people to work towards establishing peace on earth; peace among people and peace between people and everything that has life on planet earth.

“God loved the world so much that God gave God’s Only son, so that whoever believes in him may experience eternal life.” (John 3:16)

I'm not saying that God doesn't love the world and all of its wild inhabitants in other ways, but I am suggesting that one of the most profound ways that God loves the world is by changing the hearts of people (by the grace of God in Jesus) who have the power to change the world so wildlife and wild spaces can thrive (and in doing so experience the fullness of life).

Some years ago God set my heart ablaze with love for all that has life; as I have striven to follow the example of Jesus in the ways I live as a neighbor to wild creatures and wild spaces every day this is my prayer:

“Change the desires of my heart O God, so it beats in tune with yours. And let this change you’ve brought about within me find expression in my living.”

(Most of this morning's bird walk participants)

(millipede)

(redback salamander)

(same redback salamander)

(winter firefly: no bioluminescence in this species, but a relative to two other PA species of firefly who do)


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