All God’s Creatures

Of all the things I’ve blogged about over the last few years, the only one that resulted in a mass of unsubscription notices was when I talked about my love for whales. So I never blogged about it again. Parenting is a good topic. So is singleness. Loving my spouse. Enduring in crisis. These topics seem to resonate with the broad readership of this blog. But a profound interest in marine mammals – not so much.

Nevertheless, I’m very interested in marine mammals, though mostly just those in the dolphin family. And I don’t see that interest as a secular interest. I’m not a fan of distinctions between the sacred and secular, and while I’m not always successful, I do try to make sure things that occupy my mind fit within my belief system. I briefly entertained the idea of studying marine biology at the College of Charleston many moons ago when I was thinking through colleges and courses of study. I eventually chose a Christian college where I studied math education, and I don’t regret that decision. I had previously swum with dolphins at a research facility in Key Largo, Florida during a summer camp with my youth group at church. The dolphins came on either side of me and pulled me through the water as I held on to their fins. I wasn’t a strong swimmer and slipped off, and they graciously came back around to get me again. I was hooked.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Life and responsibility and ministry led me away from the east coast. But I eventually landed on the west coast. There, I met the biggest dolphins of all, the Orca whale, and I fell in love again. My husband has made it possible for me to go to what he jokingly calls whale school this summer, a week of training to become a naturalist who can lead whale watching tours in the Pacific Northwest. I could wax eloquent for a bit on the incredible intelligence and awe inspiring relational nature of the local pods of killer whales here, but I’ll just link to this documentary if you want an idea yourself.

I spent last week back on the east coast, watching pods of dolphins swim up and down the channel near our beach house on Edisto Island, South Carolina. I snickered to think of all the money I had been willing to spend on dolphin and whale tours, and here, for free, 20 of them were swimming up and down the coastline as we played in the water 30 feet away from them.

Creation is broken, but it was not utterly destroyed. And there are still many glimpses to be had of the awe of what God created in perfection for us to enjoy with Him. For me, dolphins are a little hint of that. Behind the chimpanzee, they are the smartest animal on earth. They communicate better than my dogs do, and my dogs are pretty good communicators. I note that when a serpent walked up to Eve in the Garden of Eden and started talking to her, she just talked back. No one seemed surprised by the conversation, and I suspect that in perfection animal communication was the norm, not the exception. When I study dolphins and observe their behavior, I don’t attribute the image of God to them—no, only man was made to reflect God in such a way. Yet I recognize that they too were created by our God, and I’m amazed by what remains after the fall that continues to reflect the awesomeness of our Creator.

You likely have something else that resonates deep within your heart and makes you long for perfection. Maybe it’s a mountain vista that reflects the grandeur of God to you. Maybe it’s the beauty of the birth of a new life. I think different pieces of creation resonate to us individually. For me, it’s the warm ocean breeze washing over me as I watch a family of dolphins rolling in and out of the water with the sound of gentle waves in the background. One day, I’ll enjoy that in perfection where God Himself is the Sun that shines down on us. That thought ministers deeply to my soul in troubled times.

Psalm 148 

4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! 

5  Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. 

6 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, 

8  fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! 

9  Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! 

10  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! 

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth. 

12 Young men and maidens together,  old men and children! 

13  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. 

14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. 

Praise the Lord!

15 Responses to All God’s Creatures

  1. Doreen T. June 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Praise the Lord indeed! Have to say I'm a teeny bit jealous that you are going to whale school. Every time K pod or L pod orcas are shown on the local news, I have to stop what I'm doing and watch. The orcas are truly a wonderful example of God's beautiful and very complex creation. For this I give glory along with you to our magnificent Creator!

  2. Wendy June 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Doreen! Glad to hear from another who identifies. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth June 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    My husband is a strong Christian and a zealous conservationalist. As you have written about before, marriage teaches us to see things differently that we ever have before, and I am so grateful for what he's taught me. His enthusiasm is infectious! One year we spent Valentine's Day night at the Gerogia Aquarium sleeping with 100 other people and some whale sharks (which are not whales – but still amazing). The longing for perfection you mention – for me it comes from salt marshes along the Southeastern coast. That is what gives me the mixed feelings of longing and deep gratitude.

  4. Rachael Starke June 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Honestly – that's the best apologetic for why we should care about whales I've ever read. 🙂

  5. Sandy June 29, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    I love that you are going to “Whale School!”
    Why did people unscribe because of your other whale post? Do they prefer sharks to whales?:) or was it an different issue?

  6. Wendy June 29, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    That made me giggle. I really don't know what triggered the unsubscriptions with that particular post. In general, I try to not pay much attention to unsubscription notices since I know I do it sometimes just because my inbox is filling up. 🙂 But that one post was unusual.

  7. Amber June 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. I live in Colorado Springs and my home, which is on the edge of the forest, was 1/3 a mile from the flames that destroyed 346 homes on Tuesday and continues to burn. Praise God, my home made it through, but I am in deep mourning for the loss of my beautiful hillsides and mountains which are blackened and bare now. Some may not understand why the burning of a few trees is such a spiritual loss for me, so this was a nice balm on my mourning soul. Thank you.

  8. Anonymous June 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    two whale tours so far and no whale siting yet! A record I think. It will be worth the wait.
    “let the fish of the sea declare to you, who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

  9. Wendy June 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Amber, I am so sorry for your loss! I spent one brief sojourn years ago in Colorado Springs, enjoying the Flying W Ranch in particular which was lost in the fire. You live in a beautiful place that ministers peace to the soul as the Creator intended. I pray that you will see growth and rejuvenation in your area very soon.

  10. Wendy June 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Anonymous, if you are going in the pacific northwest, I can give you some pointers on how to make sure you see the whales.

  11. Anonymous June 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    thanks. the tour company is out of Anacortes. They guarantee a whale siting, so we can keep returning on their tours until that happens. I guess next time, we ought to try to pick the best month for orcas statistically.

  12. Wendy June 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    That's good that you can keep going until you see them! I saw them in May so they are definitely back in town. Both tours I went on (Victoria Clipper from Seattle and a local tour based in Friday Harbor) used other boats to find them. The whales had been spotted by others before we ever left the dock and the captain already knew exactly where to go. That works for the J, K, and L pod of orcas who just swim in circles around the San Juans all summer but not gray whales and transients who aren't predictable. But you probably already know all that. 🙂

  13. Jenn A June 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    One of my dreams is to see a real whale in the ocean myself – not just videos or pictures. My oldest son sparked my interested in whales and we spent a lot of time studying about them when he was younger. He and my husband were in Australia last summer and were able to see a bunch of humpback whales there. I think it is fabulous that your husband encourages you to pursue God-given gifts and interests!

  14. Jennifer Muldowney July 5, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Wow! This is my first time ever commenting on a blog but I just had to because I too love whales! My love for whales came about during a season when I struggled with understanding what it meant to fear God. One night I had a half dreamy memory of being on a whale watch with my grandparents. We were on a tiny boat when a whale surfaced only 30ft away from us. I was immediately filled with fear thinking how massive this whale must be and how it had the power to easily destroy our little boat. At the same time though I felt great awe and love for this whale because despite its size and power, it was so gentle as it slowly swam past our boat and disappeared again. The mystery of this beautiful creature created such a longing in me to know more. I thank God for this memory because it has changed the way I think about him. Every time I see a whale or this memory comes to me, I think about God and I am again filled with that feeling of fear and awe. Thank you for sharing this post and causing that feeling to come up again!

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