The Heavens Declare

Memories of summer camp are an indelibly imprinted milestone in my life. This never-before-been-a-Pathfinder became a member of the Camp Wawona staff for two summers. There in the granite, fir and pine-covered hills of California's Yosemite National Park my life was changed.

By day I was assistant curator of the nature center — leading trudging throngs of campers to discover newly hatched Monarch butterflies, or helping them hold a small, docile rubber boa snake in the palms of their hands.

By night, I called the hilltop tack shed home. There amidst the pungent equine atmosphere of horse corrals, I swapped stories of the day with several bunk-mate buddies until sleep came. Sometimes sleep was interrupted.

Such as ... the nights marauding raccoons raided feed bins just outside the shed. On one such occasion, my friend mumbling in his sleep by the wall next to the bins burst forth with a sudden shout. A raccoon, seeking more vittles, had reached an inquisitive paw through a knot hole and seized my unfortunate colleague's nose. It did bring an abrupt, if temporary, respite to his snoring.

Such as ... the night nature called, and I felt my urgent barefoot way along the path under the stars to the restrooms, only to step squarely on a toad who myopically disregarded the "yield" sign. I regret the creature had only one life to give for his country, for in that instant I died a thousand deaths.

Such as ... Brian, a young boy at Blind Camp who wanted to "see" one of the crickets he could hear in the evenings. I told him how their trills were often governed by temperature — the frequency quickening on especially warm summer nights. And I saw his thrill as he held his first quivering cricket, and realized how a nighttime symphony could come from such insignificantly small musicians.

There, surrounded by creation, I learned to love anew the Creator. The more I have studied into the details of nature, the more I realize how little I truly comprehend. Lying on my back at night on a granite slab still warm from daytime sun, I have looked into star-filled heavens. You can see the past there — the light from suns radiated In the Beginning.

As I have gazed upon creation, I hear the words of the Psalmist: "What is man, that Thou are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4). And I realize a universe-sized God cannot be remade in our image, no matter how hard we may try. The best and brightest minds among us will still come short with all their equations. Belief in creation or evolution still requires a step of faith.

And that step for me is found simply in Scripture: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth His handiwork," (Psalm 19:1).

It is His, not ours. What care, then, should we have as stewards of this place we (temporarily) call home?

“I regret the creature had only one life to give for his country, for in that instant I died a thousand deaths.”

April 01, 2010 / Let's Talk