Tag Archives: creation

Between Your Head and Your Heart

Sandhill Crane on nest ground view vignette 4-30-16 Swaner Preserve Park City UTI posted this photo today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, taken last weekend at a wildlife preserve in Park City, Utah. This picture of a nesting sandhill crane, so perfectly camouflaged by its bullrush surroundings in the marsh, almost didn’t happen. Except for one thing: before hitting the trail with camera in hand, I stopped by the visitor’s center. The very helpful young student at reception responded to my inquiries about the birds in the area and asked me if I planned to go to the tower observation deck on the third floor.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and I didn’t even know that there was an observation deck on the third floor – another good reason to ask questions and listen. She proceeded to tell me that there existed a pair of nesting sandhill cranes in the marsh that most people never see, because they don’t know they are there. She handed me a handy enlarged photo of the marsh – a bird’s eye view taken from the observation deck – with a big red X marking the spot where the sandhill crane nest sat.

The photos of the cranes are something I will treasure and share with others. And something I would have completely missed because of their marvelous camouflage had I not taken a moment to stop and ask a question, and then followed the student’s directions. The 90 minutes I spent there were moments when I sensed the glory of God and his marvelous creation. All the more amazing because I discovered this place right next to a huge shopping complex designed to provide for the masses of people who visit the area to ski, enjoy the former Winter Olympic sites in the area (2002), or attend the Sundance Film Festival. We had eaten lunch there the day before and I had no idea the nature preserve with sandhill cranes and more than 50 other species of birds I would spot the next day was just a few yards away.

I read something today that I think touches on the fringe of where many people are in our culture who are spiritual seekers. Like me, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know that God is near, and that he may be speaking to them through the wonders of life and His creation. For them, I pray that the truth of Hebrews 11:6 will become reality to them: “Any person who comes to God must believe that he exists, and he rewards those who diligently seek him.”

That is where faith begins – often with a feeling in the heart that you cannot argue with. It just is there, evoking a sense of wonder and awe, touching the depths of a soul you intellectually aren’t sure you possess. Between the heart and the head. Only about 18 inches, but within that space grow the seeds of faith God plants along the way, creating a hedge to bridge the gap between faith and reason.

Even those who describe themselves as atheists (as this author did at one point in his life, although if you read on you will discover he was raised in a conservative Baptist home), eventually find themselves torn by the dilemma between what their intellect says and what their heart tells them. Whether to follow the wanderings and wonderings of their heart leading them to worship God, despite what their head tells them.

This article takes some wading through to discover the gems by the author, a man battling with cancer, also a Yale professor, who states: “I believe that the question of faith—which is ultimately separable from the question of “religion”—is the single most important question that any person asks in and of her life, and that every life is an answer to this question, whether she has addressed it consciously or not.” And this piece was published in “The American Scholar” of all places:

The American Scholar: I Will Love You in the Summertime – Christian Wiman
Between the rupture of life and the rapture of language lies a world of awe and witness


The Tree of Life and the Life of Trees

Large Cedar Trees Grove of Patriarchs Mt Rainier Lower Res July 9 2012“It is what it is.” We often use those words to express angst, frustration, or exasperation about circumstances that we cannot control. Do you ever wonder what “what is” would be if Adam and Eve had not eaten from the forbidden tree, but instead eaten from the tree of life? In that defining moment of disobedience mortality became the destiny of all living things.

Though the number of years in a human life varies, the Bible provides a rule of thumb in Psalm 90:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (New King James Version) A quick Google search confirms that while nearly 30 countries can boast an average lifespan at birth of more than eighty years (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/longest-life-expectancy-pictures.htm), our planet’s average citizen comes closer to the longevity mentioned by the Psalmist, somewhere around sixty-seven years.

NPR featured a fascinating science story by Robert Krulwich recently about the lifespan of living things on planet earth (http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/01/22/169976655/nature-has-a-formula-that-tells-us-when-its-time-to-die?ft=3&f=111787346&sc=nl&cc=es-20130127#update). The research seems to show a simple principle: Life is short for small creatures, longer for big ones. In fact, a paper done in 2007 showed a formula, that when applied to 700 different plants, correctly predicted lifespans. Krulwich states:

It’s hard to believe that creatures as different as jellyfish and cheetahs, daisies and bats, are governed by the same mathematical logic, but size seems to predict lifespan. The formula seems to be nature’s way to preserve larger creatures who need time to grow and prosper, and it not only operates in all living things, but even in the cells of living things. It tells animals for example, that there’s a universal limit to life, that though they come in different sizes, they have roughly a billion and a half heart beats; elephant hearts beat slowly, hummingbird hearts beat fast, but when your count is up, you are over. Plants pulse as well, moving nourishment through their veins. They obey the same commands of scale, and when the formula says “you’re done,” amazingly, the buttercup and the redwood tree obey. Why a specific mathematical formula should govern all of us, I don’t completely understand, but when the math says, “it’s time,” off we go …

It comes as no surprise that redwood trees live longer than ferns, but it is surprising that there is a pattern, a scientific formula if you will, that governs the span of all species of plant and animal life on planet earth. It’s almost as if someone planned it that way. Hmm, I wonder if it might have anything to do with a common Creator? Maybe “numbering our days” is more about theology than mathematics.

Old Maple Tree on Mox Chehalis Road near Malone WA 10-25-12Despite our constant human longing for a fountain of youth, we don’t seem to be able to change the formula and delay the inevitable aging process, or add more years to our life. Perhaps it should give us pause to consider the advice by the same Psalmist after pondering the brevity of our existence: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NKJV)

In the beginning, there was a garden. Adam and Eve had all the time in the world to tend it and reap the benefits of a weed and disease free environment. They must have been hoping for the promised knowledge when they ate the forbidden fruit. But they did not get what they expected. What they needed was wisdom to make a better choice. Had they known, they probably would have chosen to eat from the tree of life.

In the end, there will be another garden with the pristine environment Adam and Eve once enjoyed, and the fellowship with God that was broken by their act of disobedience. The Apostle John describes that future scene: “On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him.” (Revelation 22:2-3 New Living Translation) We will learn infinitely more from the tree of life than we will from the life of trees.

It is what it is. Our days are numbered. Yet if we apply our hearts to wisdom and learn to number our days we’ll discover that God has a plan to exchange our mortality for immortality as we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for our sin and disobedience. When we do, we’ll reserve a future opportunity to enjoy the fruit from the tree of life forever. Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, but the life in the years.”

Both tree photos (c) by Don Detrick – the top photo shows cedar trees in The Grove of the Patriarchs in Mt. Rainier National Park. Lower photo an ancient maple tree on Mox Chehalis Road near Malone, WA.

If you are reading this on one of my blogs other than dondetrick.com, you might want to know that I will be posting mainly here in the future: www.dondetrick.com.