Notebook and Pen

Jessica's Corner

The Wonder and Simplicity of God’s Creation

 

During one of our afternoon power walks, my mother and I came across a female eastern tiger swallowtail, the gorgeous Georgia state butterfly. As it hovered around looking to feed on nectar, it landed on a patch of green leaves just long enough for me to snap a photo with my phone. I marveled at the beauty of its bright yellow forewings trimmed in black on the sides and its hind wings adorned in blue. I watched it linger on the tip of the leaf blade it selectively chose for a few more seconds, telling myself that this made up for my disappointment in not seeing any Brood X cicadas last summer.

 

As I've gotten older, I have started paying more attention to nature, and I really needed to take some additional time and enjoy the wonder and simplicity of God's creation around me. Although I am a journalist, I needed a small break from the news, which we all know has been beyond distressing with almost daily reports of mass shootings coupled with the ongoing worrisome analyses of inflation. Power walking with my mother enabled me to relax a bit from the negative and taxing inculcation of online media stories and appreciate some of the eastern tiger swallowtail's co-stars of nature in the neighborhood: white-tailed deer, wild cottontail rabbits and the occasional raccoon. I'm actually glad that I only had one encounter with a raccoon on our walks, and the one I saw seemed to have a witty personality. It was standing upright in a neighbor's yard and curiously eyed me, as if to ask, "Why aren't you taking my picture?" The cottontails I saw seemed to prefer nibbling on grass in people's front yards before scurrying away into the woods when I got too close. The white-tailed does passing through my mother's backyard usually had three to four fawns with them that playfully frolicked around the oak trees as if to show off their spotted coats. I also noticed that this particular white-tailed family liked taking early evening strolls, prancing around from house to house. One day a neighbor treated them to a snack that is definitely on a deer's top five list: fresh watermelon rinds.

 

In pausing to think about the distinctive daily routines of these animals along with the swallowtail, one common factor stood out: They spend each day expecting to find provision for their survival. This reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 6:26 where Jesus used birds as an illustration of God's delight in meeting our needs but also pointed out our lack of faith when we grow anxious. Like birds, deer, cottontail rabbits and raccoons don't sow, reap or "gather into barns" but our "heavenly Father" feeds them. I had to, as is often said in church, "selah" (rest) on this for a moment, given the constant troubling news in our nation. And in gradually getting back to news, a July poll conducted by Siena College Research Institute showed that "pocketbook issues" are among the main concerns of Americans, specifically jobs and the cost of living. Rising costs of goods and services have affected all of us. Thankfully, the national average for a gallon of gas has fallen below $4 for the first time in about five months, which has provided some much-needed relief at the pump for many. Yet many people's budgets continue to be squeezed with increases in rent and other monthly expenses.

 

Seeing great lack and abundant struggle around us, it's difficult not to worry, but God's remedy for worry is increased faith. I'm reminded of the words of wisdom from the late Dr. Robert Schuller, who encouraged people to think about faith as more of a verb rather than a noun to push through life's trials. In his 1990 booklet "Putting Your Faith Into Action Today," Schuller wrote that a "human being empowered with an invincible faith can survive all odds the world can throw against his tortured soul." These words are especially comforting today in knowing that building up my faith equips me as a survivor.

 

As I prepare to get back to my job equivalent of "sowing, gathering and reaping", I'm going to continue to reflect on the splendor of nature I observed in how the eastern tiger swallowtail, white-tail deer, cottontails and the lone raccoon are not stressed or perplexed in their natural habitat. They are a magnificent example of innately exercising faith, a humble and powerful lesson I take to heart.